Megan Dowsett is a creative consultant working in museums, galleries and the arts, an illustrator who is finding her voice through personal and local projects, and a parent to two young beings who can't help but influence her creative journey.

Through the name Norris and the Flamingo, she shares the sense of adventure that runs through all of life, wherever we are on our journey. A sense of imagination, of possibility and discovery, for children and adults alike.

30 December 2012

Discerning Eye

A few weeks ago now, I visited the Discerning Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries, where my friend Wendy Horler, had two paintings on display. I had mixed feelings about some parts of the exhibition, but like the Royal Academy's Summer exhibition, the sheer density of artwork from such a wide range of artists, and curated in sections by different people, means that inevitably, I came away inspired. These are a few of the artists who caught my eye.
Jessie Brennan has drawn the most incredible landscape made from all the ordinary things in our office.  Whether for aesthetics, concept or pure drawing skill, surely everybody can be inspired by this?  I think I found it mesmerising for all three.
Betty Fraser Myerscough is an inspiration to me to figure out how my (Gran's) sewing machine works.    Without undermining the beauty, planning and construction of her incredible textile pieces, her work struck me as textile collage held together by a mass of straight lines - surely, in my current embroidery experiments (yet to be shared here), I can at least conquer straight lines on the machine?  Sadly I couldn't find the pieces from the exhibition, which seem to combine the qualities of both the pictures above - a crazy mass of text amidst a mountain of buildings.
Although Meg Lipke paints more abstractly than I usually prefer, I was inspired by the media she experiments with - she seems to play with layers through wax resist, batik, collage, watercolours, inks, in a way that comes together very vividly.

Many things for me to try in 2013!

13 December 2012

London Unfurled

Sometimes I hold an idea in my head for years.  I guess I know, subconsciously, that I'm never going to do it, but I like to believe that one day I will.  But in the meantime, somebody else has the same idea. Sometimes I feel a sense of peace that my idea has been brought into existence, even if not by me.

Today though, I'm a tiny bit disappointed.  I found London Unfurled by Matteo Pericoli as I moved through the books in Waterstone's.  I've long wanted to create a lengthy pen drawing of the entirety of London's riverbanks and Matteo Pericoli has done exactly that, in a beautifully formed book.  I should be delighted to see my idea in substance, but somehow it's rather dry, to be honest.  There is no contrast, little personality or individuality.  It's almost, but not quite, a pure architectural drawing.

Where does that leave me?  Do I lay my vision to rest, achieved by the world if not by me?  Or do I do it, one day, and remind people of that book they saw some time ago?

Perhaps I take it as a challenge, to push the boundaries further, take on my idea and stretch it, change and evolve it.  Into something better ...

9 December 2012


One week, I drew one of our chaotic sitting room bookshelves every evening, and built this montage from the separate illustrations.

7 December 2012

Secret London

We're coming to the end of a gorgeous exhibition at the London Transport Museum ... it's been a place for me to sneak away to during breaks as I settle into a new job there.  Secret London is an exhibition of graduates' illustration, on one of our eternally favourite themes.  Perhaps in the thrill of working for a museum with such an enormous poster collection, I found myself most drawn to the illustrations which reminded me of London's posters.  This one, by Harry Haysom, makes me want to follow up with an entire story ...
And this one, by Matt Higgins, simply makes me laugh ...

1 December 2012

Happy Birthday Mum!

Final 2 For the past six weeks or so, I've been doing a quick sketch every evening before bed, as a challenge with a friend. It's been satisfying to operate in such a structured way, and I've given myself a theme each week. I used the sketches of flowers to make this image for my Mum's 60th birthday.

28 November 2012

Soap-Carved Chess Pieces

IMG_5154I have long dreamed of a project in which we dress up as chess pieces and play life-size chess on the floor of the Octagon Room. Well, this week, we began. We got to know the chess pieces through drawing them, and explored the idea of carving through carving into soap and semi-hard clay. IMG_5163

25 November 2012

The Great Plaster and Toilet Roll Experiment

IMG_5136 Some time ago, I promised to share my ongoing adventures in plaster. Well, here is step one - clearly a work in progress, but it was so exciting to put into action the first steps of the ideas in my head! Above, the experiment in which I tested what materials would best insulate the toilet rolls against the sogginess of plaster. Below, the plaster cylinders after the tubes had been removed. Still with cling film tea-lights in the top, as one of my thoughts is to make tea-light holders. IMG_5137

18 November 2012

Table Decorations

IMG_1124From the moment we got engaged, my crafty friends were demanding to know when we would have a 'making things day' to prepare for the wedding. Using tissue paper to turn jam jars into tea light holders became the collaborative 'didactic making things day' project. These are they - we made over 70 in the end. IMG_1126 These photos also display Liam's beautifully aged table names, a tribute to our affection for Lord of the Rings.  Also, flowers thanks to the dear Emma Stacey and old books lovingly collected from charity shops and my dad's inheritance from my grandmother.  Photos thanks to Pete Stevens and Andrew Mason.

14 November 2012

Stamping onto Fabric

IMG_5138 I led a stall at the Full of Life Fair in Twickenham, which promotes activities for older people. There I met Tim, a not-so-old volunteer, who mesmerised me with his liberated, colourful approach to using the stamps.

11 November 2012

Tea Cups

IMG_1104 One of my first wedding projects was for the tea tent. I, and several loyal guests, collected a wide assortment of tea cups from charity shops, and then I spent several evenings painting the monogram that Liam had designed onto the base of each. After adding a tag to identify it, then drinking from it, guests were invited to keep their cup as a 'wedding favour'. IMG_1058Photos thanks to Andrew Mason.

7 November 2012

Herne Hill Farmers Market

Looking forward to our new craft stall at Herne Hill Farmers Market on Sunday 11 November from 10am - 4pm. As well as my previously mentioned envelope projects, I'll be selling tea-light jam jars.  And Emmy will be selling her charm bracelets. We hope to see you there!
Jam Jar Tea Lights 1Our craft stall dates are as follows:
Herne Hill Farmers Market:
Sunday 11 November, 10am - 4pm
Sunday 25 November, 10am - 4pm
Dulwich College Farmers Market:
Sunday 16 December, 9am - 1pm

4 November 2012

Clay Vessels

IMG_5145 My return to Art Clubs at Orleans House Gallery began with this clay vessels project with the 5 - 10 year olds. IMG_5143

1 November 2012

Craft Stall at Herne Hill Farmers Market

Envelope Notebooks 2 I have been working on a new craft stall adventure, which will launch at Herne Hill Farmers Market on Sunday 11 November from 10am - 4pm. Celebrating my fascination with the insides of envelopes, I will be selling notebooks and origami decorations made from this wondrous resource. I will also be selling tea-light holders and Emma Sundt will be selling charm bracelets. We hope to see you there!

30 October 2012

Finger Puppets

IMG_1076 Given my working life, it was pretty much an essential that, in the midst of wedding preparations, I wanted to devise something crafty, creative and open ended for the children, from the 3 year olds to the very big, grown up ones. And so, quietly, so as not to give my husband-to-be the anxiety that we'd never be ready, I gathered together the materials for making finger puppets and spent a glorious evening building a mini puppet theatre. _S070041 Photos thanks to Andrew Mason (above) and Pete Stevens (below)

24 October 2012

Felting around a ball

IMG_9971IMG_9974IMG_9973IMG_9966 Thanks to new funding from Richmond Community Learning, I am leading new 'Make and Create' workshops in Richmond Old Town Hall. We are coming to the end of our first block, in which we've been exploring the possibilities of wet felting. This week we ventured into new realms, by felting over a ball to make hats and bowls. It was a thrilling experience to watch the transformation! Photos show Nuala, Fi, myself (on Eileen's behalf) and Laura displaying our masterpieces.

20 October 2012

DIY Cupcake Stands

IMG_1055Returning to the wedding theme, it's time to address the question of cake. Our friends and aunt, Kirsten, Natalie and Joey, generously agreed to make cupcakes, which would happily tide our guests over until dinner. But it seemed shockingly expensive to find attractive cake stands to hold 140 cakes! So I gathered together the plates on offer at local charity shops, along with the eternal selection of glassware they seem to provide, and made my own. IMG_1057Warning - using cheap superglue worked well enough to get through, but they are not the strongest items in the kitchen!
Photos credit to Andrew Mason.

17 October 2012

From the Sketchbook: Cambodia for the last time

A brief moment amidst rice paddies and enormous palms, outside a broken down bus in Cambodia.

13 October 2012

From the Sketchbook: Cambodia again

008The magic of Angkor Wat ... For me, as I'm sure is so for many, one of the most mesmerising and incredible features of Angkor Wat is a 60m frieze carved in stone and depicting the story of the Ramayana. Present me with a gift as bewitching as this and the only way to appreciate it, to take the time to look at it properly and somehow absorb it in all its complexity, is to draw it. 009

10 October 2012

Lambeth Open - Warrior Studios

I enjoyed a thrilling visit to the Warrior Studios in Loughborough Junction, as part of Lambeth Open.  It's a long time since I've found so many overlaps with what I'm already doing, in one expedition!  I'm not sure if this is all a good thing, but it's left me feeling incredibly inspired, nonetheless.
In particular, Federica Dalla Vecchia is fascinated by many of the same things that I'm currently exploring.  This stunning quilt is made from envelopes.  And then, she has taken a host of disposable cups and created plaster moulds from them, playing with the variety of shapes, textures and patterns in objects that we usually throw away without consideration.
Jane Campbell is playing with plaster too, and reminded me that I can find potential even in the crumbled disasters.  Her work challenged me to think more widely about what I'm doing at the moment, which I will share very soon ...

7 October 2012

From the Sketchbook: Cambodia

011010We took a boat from Battambang to Siem Reap - an incredible way to travel, bugs and all! And the mutual curiosity, warmth and friendliness between the tourists and the locals allowed manifested itself in my sketchbook. Children, always, are easiest to draw as they remain absorbed in their own world. The girl, above, was profoundly curious about my drawing and so I only managed to draw her as she gazed overboard. The boy, below, was not nearly as angelic as he looked and disinclined from staying still for more than a second!

4 October 2012

A Workshop with Annette Bolton

I joined my Mum in a workshop hosted by the Andover Embroiderers' Guild, with textile artist Annette Bolton, who created the books above and below.  Mostly, I looked forward to a day of indulgent fabrics and threads, beads and stitches.  I didn't expect to come away with a project to fill my train journeys for the next term and numerous thoughts for further fabric books to follow!  Watch this space for some finished pieces .,.

30 September 2012

From the Sketchbook: Vietnam again

003More from the Vietnam sketchbook. Above, the view of rice paddies in the rain from our luxurious hotel balcony - imagine it with a soundtrack of croaking frogs! Below, a bandstand in the Citadel in Hue, a continuous line drawing. 002

23 September 2012

Mind the Map

I visited the London Transport Museum, drawn by the Mind the Map exhibition, which turned out to be every bit the feast I'd hoped for.  Combine a fascination with London, with the Underground, with maps and the infinite possibilities of transforming them into aesthetic and logical masterpieces, and you are in the dream exhibition.
For me my most inspiring discovery was my introduction to the maps of MacDonald Gill, who for the first part of the 1900s created illustrative maps of London and the tube, blending geography, humour and great colour schemes.
There was also a thrilling range of pieces commissioned for the exhibition.  To pick out one favourite, I should land on Claire Brewster, who made paper cuts from tube maps to bring together her journey from the countryside to the city.
Finally, I made a great connection in the workings of my mind when I saw Susan Stockwell's map of the world made from a montage of travel tickets.  Somehow I had never realised that my love of the London transport network could be connected to my fascination with figuring out the public transport networks in the countries I visit overseas.

20 September 2012

From the Sketchbook: Vietnam

001 In our recent trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, the colourful designs of boats was one of the most fascinating hooks - the way that they all shared a similar colourscheme and style in one region, and a different style in another. Later in the trip, I began to notice eye motifs on the front, as in one of the boats below. 005

17 September 2012

Short Hair Bride

IMG_5134 When it comes to a wedding, what on earth do you do with short hair? Actually, you type 'short hair bride' into google and remind yourself that you are normal after all. _DSF9508 My dear Mum makes lace, and I wanted to ask her to make something for my day - we had been working on the idea of a stole, but a piece for my hair turned out to be perfect. I played with making organza and chiffron flowers, and made several for my bridesmaids too, and these different pieces came together in a way infinitely more 'right' than I had dared to dream possible. IMG_5132

13 September 2012

The Question of the Plastic Cups

When it came to the bar at our wedding, I struggled with the issue of plastic cups. I could see that we needed plastic cups in case people disappeared all over the garden with glasses in hand. But after such a mission of second-hand things, it seemed a pity not to be able to recycle the cups. However, my research led me to the conclusion that there isn't much recycling of plastic cups in our country - it's more about reusing them until they collapse. IMG_4321 Then it hit me - I could use my eternal fascination with plastic bottles and turn them into cups. A plan of pure genius, if it wasn't found two weeks before the wedding. Even then, if this new form of cup was stackable, I may yet have done it. Instead, I re-visited the idea a month after our wedding for our celebration barbecue, and gave in to using normal plastic cups for the actual day.