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.

14 January 2018

Laydeez do Comics

Blog 1 I was delighted to stumble across Laydeez do Comics in an old email, thrilled to realise I could actually attend the next gathering, and brazenly offered my blogging services. Having, admittedly, not quite realised the brilliance of my blogging predecessors. Blog 2 An awe-inspiring evening in the gorgeous Teahouse Theatre, a warm, warm welcome and a whole bunch of creative people who do not require me to turn up reliably at every meeting - most exactly what I need! A new book that seems to have taken my precise life situation and put it into pictures and writing, thanks Richy K Chandler. Blog 3 And a new book to come that looks likely to embrace all my dreams about the potential of a graphic novel and tell - well, a much-needed story. Thanks Lucy Sullivan.

7 January 2018

The Boat

I found myself listening to a Digital Arts programme on Radio 4, and a discussion of The Boat, an interactive graphic novel by Matt Huynh.  Intrigued and excited by the idea of a new art form, a new way of forming narrative that combined illustration and animation differently, I did something I rarely do - I went online and watched it immediately.

And I can't work out what I think, actually.
I loved it.  I wanted to love it.  I dreamed of being surprised by something utterly 'out there' and beyond anything I could conceive, while still being beautiful and illustrative (I'm not so fond of the overly digital stuff).  I am always waiting to be surprised by something I've never even imagined, so you can guess how high I set my expectations!  I watched (and read) Persepolis some time ago and it has also set the bar extremely high - nothing has beaten it since!

I'd like to mention that my experience of graphic novels is mixed, too.  I'm frequently entranced by the beauty of the cover, and often frustrated by the generic 'comic strip' style of the illustrations.  I expect too much - there is a lot to fit into small images that need to be understood quickly, and so it makes sense that they are simple and usually monochrome.

Meanwhile, I am an avid reader - more than anything else, I relax by sinking into the world created by whichever novel I'm reading at the moment.  So graphic novels sometimes fall short of my narrative, literary need by feeling a bit too simplistic, and I read them too fast - I don't know how to dwell on them, to soak in the depth of the story visually rather than descriptively.

How was The Boat going to fit in with all this experience, these expectations?

Well.  The introduction was bewitching, enticing - beautiful, inky brushstrokes creating an animated scene that set the whole stormy backdrop beautifully.

And throughout, the illustrative style was exquisite.  Emotive, painterly, atmospheric.  I loved that I could see the layers of ink used to build the story.  I loved that the artist allowed pools and blotches to play their role.
I think I also liked the text.  As mentioned above, for me it served well to deepen the story, and I found it beautifully written.  A couple of the panelists commented that it was perhaps 'overwritten', and having seen it, I suspect they were referring in particular to a few sentences towards the end which were absolutely, painfully unnecessary, when the images would have stood alone perfectly.

But I can't help wondering how much was added to the piece by making it a digital work?  The radio show played a piece of music that was used within the soundtrack and I was thrilled by the idea that the piece had a musical soundtrack.  It returned me to ideas that I first explored with Kandinsky and friends through The Blue Rider - this group of artists, musicians and philosophers were absorbed by the inter-relation of art forms.

Anyway, the music was beautiful, but actually it was a song that supported two particular parts of the narrative.  The rest of the soundtrack was very sensitively done - the sound of waves, for example - a click or a shudder to correspond with a sudden movement on the boat.  And a lot of silence.  While I'm glad that the soundtrack wasn't over-worked, I also couldn't help feeling that perhaps it was hardly necessary at all.  What I most often felt myself wanting was a voice - a voice that narrated the story.  It felt strange to read the words on screen, amidst animation and soundtrack.  Perhaps I am too embedded in film culture.
So I'm still a little undecided.  I have watched a beautiful, evocative graphic novel with a stunning short-storyline that as a narrative was, I think, spot on.  I'm happy and inspired, but I feel as if I watched it through a powerpoint presentation with some amazing gimmicks!

I thought this might finally convert me to the possibilities of the digital world, but perhaps at the end of the day I'm still just a luddite, who loves the feel of paper between my fingers and the space to pick up and put down a book as often as I like, wherever I like.