Megan Dowsett is a freelance creative consultant working with museums and galleries.

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.

Her core values come down to two simple things:

People: At the heart of everything she does, people are there – be it audiences of any age or background, volunteers, staff or freelancers and apprentices. She believes that the best projects take everybody with them on a learning journey.

Creativity: In every role she’s taken, creativity has played a key priority. Working in Museums and Galleries, creativity brings a valuable opportunity to think about the same things in a different way.

Museums and galleries are the perfect place to bring the joy of discovery and magic of adventure to everyone who passes through the doors - and to invite those who haven't yet braved these sometimes intimidating buildings, to do so in a dynamic and inviting way.

Over twelve years working in these exciting settings, Megan has developed extensive experience in both managing and delivering creative projects that engage with a wide variety of audiences.

29 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Card I knew the only way we'd make our Christmas cards this year was if Feets was involved.

So we took some cereal boxes and painted them green.  Decorated them with felt pen, tissue paper collage, sticker dots and stars, and glitter (oh, the glitter!).  And I cut out triangles, and voila!

Merry Christmas!

12 December 2015

Whoosh around the Mulberry Bush

Every Friday I take Feets to the library (soon to be replaced by a gym ... ) for some singing and stories.  Afterwards, Feets busily moves around the library, placing books in piles, posting them through the returns box hole, and then choosing one book after another to read.  I, meanwhile, work my way through the picture book trays, choosing books that Feets will enjoy and getting utterly sidelined by books with beautiful and inspiring illustrations for myself.  We usually end up with a compromise selection and a growing number of library books filling our shelves at home.
The great thing is that she's worked out which books I love reading to her, and she has finally started requesting them off her own bat!  That would be ... Whoosh around the Mulberry Bush by Jan Ormerod and Lindsey Gardiner.  Even after the hundredth time of singing, yipping and flapping my way through the book, I still find myself distracted by the fluid, natural way that Lindsey Gardiner blends painting and collage - and I'm always thrilled to find bits from old envelopes in there!

12 November 2015

Origami Improvisation

IMG_7660For the first time I successfully experimented with folds to come up with my own origami shapes. I've tried in the past but you need quite a large bank of folds before you can get anywhere. So I was rather surprised and pleased to discover I'd made a kind of box - one that twists closed into an envelope, no less!

2 November 2015

The Art of Mashed Potato

IMAG0389One day it dawned on me that Feets was becoming a bit fearful of mess! It's tricky living in a rented house, but I can't have a daughter who doesn't enjoy a good bit of whole-hearted ... texture. So I made a batch of mashed potato while she slept, invited a friend round, and we got stuck in with straws, bottle tops and luridly coloured mash. Always worth having a friend round, I find - it doubles the value of the effort of preparing messy activities for a short attention span! IMAG0399

14 October 2015

A Collaborative Pop-Up Card

IMAG0027 Continuing the flurry of precious departing colleagues, I put together a pop-up card for Sophie, comprising affectionate momentos from her time at the Museum and drawings contributed by the team as a whole.

11 October 2015

Home Alternative to Screen Printing

IMAG0026 We had a flurry of precious colleagues departing our team for pastures new, a few weeks back.  Laura and I decided to coordinate a team screen-print for our fabric-loving Rachel, overlooking the fact that we couldn't find the screen printing equipment.  Faced with the carefully cut templates of all our colleagues, we bravely sponge-rolled the prints instead.  Thankfully it worked.

7 October 2015

Colouring In

Norway (4) I've discovered a new addiction! I'm prone to browsing the new wave of beautiful colouring books for adults in the book shops. But I can't bring myself to buy one, because I would want to spend the time colouring something I've drawn myself. But I'm not so good at drawing from my imagination. How many times have I noted into my sketchbook the instruction 'doodle more'. So after half an hour flicking the pages of Secret Garden by Johanna Basford, I decided I'd better start some doodling. And colouring my 'doodle' became an absorbing, addictive way to pass my spare moments in Norway. And then, I began to think about this very stylised approach as I gazed over the fjord at Gudvangen. Without my sketchbook to hand, I began to consider how I would 'stylise' the trees and houses and their reflections, and later I sat down to doodle again. Perhaps the picture below will be coloured in eventually too ... Norway (2)

4 October 2015

Oyvind Torseter

Inspired as I was by the curating of the Children's Art Gallery in Bergen, it also allowed me to explore a Norwegian children's illustration.  My favourite discovery was Oyvind Torseter, who works with drawings, collage and 3d papercraft to create his scenes, which are photographed.  Beautiful and inspiring!  And without seeing one of his hand-crafted landscapes in the exhibition, it's hard to imagine how the 'flat' illustrations in the books were once so utterly 3 dimensional.
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30 September 2015

Norwegian Sketchbook - Landscapes

Norway (1) In a couple of rare moments in Norway, I managed to sketch the view ... Norway (5)

27 September 2015

Soft Monuments in Bergen

In Bergen, Norway, I found myself in a textile exhibition at KODE 2 gallery.  What a place to land in!  Soft Monuments was a display of the Museums textile collection by women in the last 25 years.  The variety was amazing, and reminded me again and again of the versatility and sensuality of textiles as a medium.  I want to share everything I saw here, but I'll settle for a taste.  Inspired though I was by the re-used and recycled fabrics, the highlight for me was a political piece.  
IMAG0198 In Wounds, Mari Meen Halsoy visited destroyed buildings in Beirut, Lebanon, and traced the holes left by bullets.  Then she sat in the building and worked on a frame loom to create woven pieces to fill the holes.  The thoughtfulness, respect and labour-of-love of the project really appealed to me, perhaps thanks in part to my own love of weaving.  
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23 September 2015

Norwegian Sketchbook - Water

Norway (7) With rain, husband and child, I didn't find so many opportunities to sketch 'live' in Norway.  It always seems to me that I should be drawing 'the real thing' while I can, but more often I found myself looking at things to remember them, and trying to figure out how I might draw them later.  It's quite liberating to throw the 'observational Norway (6) drawing rulebook' out of the window and experiment with drawing from memory and imagination!  One day, I was at Kinsarvik and tried to figure out just how to make water 'move'.  I did a few quick drawings out, and a few more quick experiments that evening.  Not there yet - this is a challenge to explore further!

20 September 2015

The Children's Art Museum

IMAG0250 An absolute highlight of our Norwegian trip, my little dream come true, a gallery just for children ... and it was fabulous. The current exhibition in the Kunstlab at KODE 4 in Bergen celebrated children's illustrators. With reproductions of a range of illustrations displayed at low levels, there was a range of incredible, experiential installations for children to interactive, to climb into the worlds of the stories.
From a netted room with movable elastic 'web', to a dark room with a bouncy furry floor, ladders that climbed through holes into another world, and golden treasures that dangled from the sky. Small worlds to peer into and rearrange and a natural looking floor with mysterious mountains bulging from it. And then, there was a whole series of commissioned sculptural pieces that interpretted the illustrations too. Displayed behind glass, these ones, I found them inspiring as artefacts in themselves. Feets was in paradise!

16 September 2015

Circles in Stones

IMAG0266 In between Galleries and sightseeing, Feets found time to play with the stones on the ground. When she'd finished inserting them into a drainage grate, she began to bring them to me, so we arranged them into circles. Early collaborative art!!

13 September 2015

The Evangerista

IMAG0103The most adventurous accommodation of our Norwegian trip was to stay at the Kunstkafe of Mona Nordaas in Evanger, a tiny hamlet by a lake. It was a challenge with a small child and the wet weather, but nevertheless the hostel-cum-cafe was an inspiration! Mona is an artist and has made her home her art, filling it with strange sculptures and intriguing textiles. It tempted me again towards dreams of painting flowers all over the walls of our home, something I'd never get away with! IMAG0109 However, I was also bewitched and inspired by the pictures of Mona's installation art - a technique that really resonate for me, if only I had the space to work this way! Mona creates floor installations with found materials and ephemera. Usually pattern or spiritual based designs, they are large, colourful and bewitching and make lovely use of the magical things that we find all the time!
Must do something with all my bits and pieces! Colour tubs? Mona and I also discussed the brilliance of doing activities in this style with families, where everyone can contribute to something beautiful and bigger than themselves.

9 September 2015

The Beginnings of the Little City

Full of beans, thoughts and creative energy (and as little time as ever!) from our recent trip to Norway. For starters, Liam and I finally started something that's been brewing in my mind for some time - to draw buildings that are meaningful to our lives onto wooden blocks. With the idea that these wooden blocks may become toys for imaginative play for Feets but also a memory and story of times and places for all of us. IMAG0298 I'd like to remind myself to be very flexible about this project, to give it the chance to grow. Perhaps with time Feets will draw on the blocks too. Perhaps friends and family will send us blocks with their own homes drawn on. Some will be big, others will be small. And though we start in black and white, perhaps we'll finish in colour. Anyway, it was fun to get started!

6 September 2015

In Memory of Tabby

IMG_7643A few pages from my sketchbook as I focussed on Feets' bunny, who has sadly disappeared, thus ending this particular study of the friendship between child and bunny! IMG_7644 IMG_7645 IMG_7641 IMG_7646

30 August 2015

Sonia Delaunay at Tate Modern

IMG_7640I've finally cottoned on to evening openings as the perfect, peaceful way to give myself an 'artist date' and avoid the struggle of simultaneously entertaining a child AND gaining artistic inspiration! I loved the Sonia Delaunay exhibition - particularly for the fashion and textiles - the planning sketches and the patterns on fabric.

23 August 2015

Kusadama Exploration

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I wouldn't call it creative exactly, but I find origami therapeutic in the repetitiveness of folding, and fascinating in the endless mission to create new shapes. So, not satisfied with having figured out one kusadama ball, I thought I'd try another!

16 August 2015

Jacob's Blanket

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My colleagues and I seem once again to have developed a tradition of handmade, collaborative gifts for big occasions.  So we decided to each knit squares for a blanket for baby Jacob.  This evolved into an, epic, time-consuming project but also a fabulous one that reminded me of all the best things about crafts.  Several people learnt to knit for the first time.  I foolishly agreed to be the person to sew the squares together, and found myself learning new stitches to do this.  But, never one to do the work alone when it could be done collaboratively, we spent many lunchtimes in Covent Garden Piazza, crocheting round the squares (yes, several people learnt to crochet) and then stitching them together.  And, several months after Jacob's birth, here's the blanket!
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9 August 2015

A Little Gift for Daddy

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As we walk through the park, I've coped with Feets' love of picking up rubbish by taking it from her and putting it in the nappy bag.  Unfortunately this has evolved into Feets collecting things specifically FOR the nappy bag.  So I began to keep the bits that she collected and put them together as a little gift for Liam!

30 July 2015

Prize for Illustration

I'm a loyal visitor to the annual Prize for Illustration exhibition at London Transport Museum.  And each time I reel off a list of my favourite pictures.  So this year I thought I'd try and look at the exhibition differently.  I wrote down a list of the qualities that I look for in an illustration and tried to identify one image that satisfied each quality.  Conveniently, it still allowed me to show off lots of my favourite images!  And to the left, my favourite image, And it Poured, by Ashling Lindsay.









Concept

I loved Carrie May's depiction of London as a jungle, with familiar city objects tucked between leaf fronds as if they were wild, rarely spotted animals.


Beauty

As an absolute sucker for beauty, the shortlist for this category was long, and in the end I just had to choose two pieces.

Ciaran Murphy's mix of colour and monochrome, and utterly familiar and loved place, distortion of size and hint of narrative drew me in.
And I loved the multiple layers as well as the mix of textures, print, abstraction and familiarity in Esther Cox's Beneath.


Narrative

It seems to me a good illustration should tell a story...

I was tempted by so many others but at the end of the day, London Fly by David Pintor just takes me on a lovely imaginative journey.



Humour

Laugh out loud humour wasn't really an exhibition feature, and this should perhaps be rated for it's concept, but I just couldn't help smiling at the idea of combining an open top bus tour with Brockwell Lido.  By Beth Walrdond.



Yearning

I wondered which image might best represent the intense love of London, of life, of its incredible ordinariness...

Living Together by Emily Nash seems to have it all ... all these different people living right on top of each other, with our fruit stalls, laundry, bicycles.

Children

Illustration is first and foremost for children, after all.  I looked for a picture that might catch the magic of childhood, if not directly aimed at children.

I couldn't resist Fountains by Emma Reynolds, not least I think because some of my fondest childhood memories involved getting very wet!

Colour

Drawn as I often am to monochrome illustration, it's largely the challenge of selecting the right colours that intimidates me.  So I looked for someone who did it well.

Mouni Feddag's London is an intriguing combination and the richest celebration of colour that anyone could ask for!


Materials

So many illustrations these days are finished off on the computer that a few really stood out to me for the bravery of exhibiting the work in its original materials.

I loved this collage - The Horniman Museum by Miranda Sofroniou - a true, tactile, original piece of illustration.  I'm so grateful that there's space in this world for computer-free artwork!

29 June 2015

My Fairy God-daughter has too many toys ...

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Device ... and so her creative mother asked us all to make a page for a book for her birthday, that she would bind into something beautiful that allowed Penny to visit us all whenever she fancied. Well, I broke the A5 rule, but clearly I just needed this little prompt to make something for my special lady.

25 June 2015

Plaster Treasures

IMG_1454 Before I know it, my gorgeous Fairy God-daughter will have started school.  So we stole some time and spent a morning pressing trasures into clay and filling them with plaster.  And we experimented with colouring the plaster with ink...
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... which would have worked much better if the clay hadn't been terracotta!

22 June 2015

Beauty at Manchester Museum

A few museum visits lately have allowed me to discover how utterly creative and beautiful the natural history galleries have become.  Perhaps the most easily traditional of all museum collections, stuffed animals in rows in glass cabinets can feel intimidatingly austere.  And I've been surprised and delighted by some of the interpretation that happens around these areas today.  Both creative and educational ...
At Manchester Museum, Helen Musselwhite created this beautiful backdrop for the family gallery in the Living Worlds area.

And then in the Living Worlds gallery itself, there's beauty ...
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... and there's clever interpretation for grown ups and children alike ... IMG_7523 IMG_7524