Megan Dowsett is a creative consultant working with museums and galleries, and an illustrator who is finding her voice through personal and local projects.

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.

26 October 2019

I am 40


This month I am 40.

I have ten GCSEs, four A levels,
a degree.
I was proud, once.
Then I dismissed them, I moved on

I’ve travelled five continents;
I’ve learnt four languages, sort of
(And forgotten them)

But also in my 40 years:

I learnt to walk, and talk,
To read and write, and count.
And sing -
Finally, finally, I can just about hold a tune.
I learnt to play the clarinet.  And forgot.
The piano, too – and remembered, a bit
Bike

I learnt to swim, and ride a bike.
I learnt to kayak - to eskimo roll, tell a stopper from a wave, cross an eddy line.
I forgot how to kayak

And after all these years, I’ve just cracked hula hooping -
and run 5km.
I didn’t pass out, combust or split my sides in misery
(Enjoyed it, actually)

I learnt to sew, and knit and crochet
(and melt plastic bags to make lampshades)
I figured I wasn’t a natural artist
But I couldn’t stop drawing and painting and cutting and sticking.
I learnt to print.
I made a few books.
I wasn’t a natural artist
(did it anyway)

I’ve learned to love my figure -
I’ve thickened my figure, and thinned it, and thickened and thinned it.
I learnt to love myself in glasses
(had laser surgery anyway)
I learnt to love the mole on my chin
(And had it removed)
Learnt how to embrace my curly hair -
Chopped it off. 
(Grew it back, chopped it off)

I moved to the big smoke;
it got smokier.
Made a home of this enormous city eventually.
Made friends,
Offered a shoulder to cry on.
And missed so many more chances to help.
Cried on a few shoulders too
Lower Lip Kiss
I tried to fall in love -
I made mistakes, but finally I got it right.

I fell in love:
I found a man who fits me, who loves me,
for all this and for the other things too, the bits I won’t write down 

He’s a sticker.

I grew, birthed and nurtured –
and screamed at, wept over, sometimes smacked –
Two beautiful, (mostly) happy children.
So I guess I learned to mother
Motherhood
I’m a manager.
Not recognised in my salary, of course, and naturally I manage more people and earn less than my husband.
But still … I’m a manager
(For a bit)

I learned passionate, strong opinions, and argued for them. 
And changed my mind
(Many times)

I’ve tried, in my little way, to make the world a better place –
Occupied the library, written letters,
marched for justice
Europe
climate
(Oh dear)

I’m still learning to balance the here and now
with the impending catastrophe of Earth.
Still learning when to accept and when to do battle -
with my children, with my career,
with the world.

I haven’t achieved world peace (yet).
I haven’t won prizes or promotions,
trophies, fame, letters after my name, directorships or great wealth.

But golly I’ve learnt so much.

And with love, hope and all fingers crossed
I’m just half way through…
Swimming

13 October 2019

Lambeth Open

At the beginning of the summer, I put to my artist friend Wendy Horler, the idea that we display our work in her conservatory as part of Lambeth Open. It seemed a slightly insane idea - to hand the children to my husband for the entire weekend, to relinquish any 40th birthday celebrations in the name of art, to put every second of spare time across the summer into collecting my artwork together - but bizarrely everyone seemed to think it was also a great idea. IMG-20191006-WA0010 My thought came from the realisation that for perhaps the first time, I had a body of work that naturally held together in a coherent way - my illustrative style has crystalised somewhat in recent years but more importantly, the focus brought by making artwork and books for my children and the children of others has given a thematic coherence to my work. Exciting to find it came of its own accord at last!

Well, the experience was amazing - better than I dreamed, hoped for, or expected. I found the opportunity to chat to people about my work, and their responses, utterly rewarding. Wendy and I had agreed not to sell our work - except a few cards - and perhaps taking this approach enabled us and our visitors to relax into genuine discussions about our work and our stories without worries about whether we were correctly reading between the lines. IMG-20191006-WA0011 I was honestly gratified to find such genuine appreciation of my books. I don't know that I will ever have a commercial enough mind to make a regular income of personal books, but the conversations I had this weekend gave me to understand that at least I'm not a fool for dreaming!

And I was surprised by the amount of interest in one of my older illustrations, which is timely in an era of climate crisis, and reinforced my feeling that I should not be afraid to consider the climate in my work. IMG-20191006-WA0009 Lastly, I did have a few conversations with people interested in buying or commissioning - such a learning curve in itself, again to see my work from an outside perspective.

Thanks to everyone who came, everyone who encouraged me, and most especially, Wendy for hosting me!