a showman’s introduction

New Orleans, 1922.

The Blackwell Brothers touring carnival have announced they are leaving the state in one weeks time – but before they go there is a new attraction to see…


Ladies and gentlemen, come on in to the darkened canvas tent. Whereupon the showman and his beautiful assistant will tell you the tale of this fascinating new curiosity.

Prepare to hear the story of Rachel & Baby Rosie…




When the Brainchild goes on display, it will be accompanied by various printed media – documents, x-rays and photographs. These items provide a deeper history of the artefact than it is possible to know purely by viewing the head itself.

The photos also provide close up views of the artefact, which may otherwise be difficult to see when physically in it’s presence. All of these documents will have QR codes on the frames enabling digital download while at the exhibition

This is a shot of all the framed materials i have for display..

Also on show will be the Brainchild artefact itself, as well as two short videos, plus a digital timeline. Again, using all these other mediums allows me to flesh out the history of the artefact, as somebody viewing the exhibition can play detective – making connections and piecing together fragments of the story themselves.


a beautiful baby girl

It isn’t obvious from some of the photos,  but Rosie can actually be removed from the skull cavity that she sits in…

She is still physically linked to Rachel by her umbilical cord – which is connected to the spinal cord as it enters the base of the skull. But it does mean she can be removed and positioned close by…



carnival poster

When i bought the Brainchild at auction back in 2010, i also managed to purchase an original poster that was used to promote the attraction back in the day.

However, a whole load of my gear got ruined due to water damage in floods last year  including this poster. It was pretty much destroyed but i held on to it anyway. I’m so pleased i did, because i have managed to get a reproduction made which uses the artwork from the original poster.

This is a copy of the proof  that has been sent to me..

It is a 3 colour design for screen print, the lightest of which would be the base colour of the paper or cloth. The second colour would be a midtone [used for shadowing in the image above]. And the third would be a keyline [a dark colour, usually black] which would have all the linework.

I am having a one printed up at it’s original size (50x80cm) which should be here in time for the exhibition!

exhibition photography

In preparation for the upcoming Brainchild exhibition, i have had a photo set done of the centre piece…

The photographer is a friend of mine, Rachel Brockley [who i have mentioned on this blog before]. As you can see these images are just fantastic.

I will be displaying these and some detail shots alongside the main attraction at the exhibition.

The Brainchild exhibition will only be on for a couple of day, but hopefully these images will whet your appetite sufficiently enought to come and see it in real life.

I will post a few more shots in the next few days



I apologise in advance for my overuse of exclamation marks in this post, but it seems that the internet really does work!

I wrote a page on this blog to ask anybody who had some information regarding the history of this exhibit if they would contact me… [link]

Well, a lady called Emily Kane got in touch. She works as a librarian at the Smith Regional Public Library, in New Orleans, USA. One of my blog posts jogged her memory about Blackwell’s travelling carnival so she delved into the public records and found that it was passing through New Orleans in the spring of 1922.

It was at this time that the carnival owner Adam Blackwell announced his engagement… to a girl called Rachel Palmer! It was customary to make a public notification of this at the town hall, but ever the showman, Adam went one step further and put a notification in one of the local newspapers alongside a photograph of the happy couple.

Amazingly, Emily managed to track down the original photo amidst decades of stored records at the old newspapers offices! Not only has she emailed me a scan of the photograph, but managed to get the newspaper to donate it to this collection!

So a massive thank you to Emily Kane for her extensive and diligent work. And a thank you too, to the Jackson Daily News for being kind enough to donate this photograph to me to use as part of the exhibition.

I understand the photo is already in transit, so with any luck it will be present for the exhibition in May!

It is with renewed enthusiasm I ask if anyone else has any interesting curiosities that may be linked to this story then please get in touch. It’s not just physical items I would like to hear about – do you have stories about the carnival or the people involved? Maybe you know where Rachel’s head was stored for all those years before it came up for auction a few years ago.

My email is chrisfairrie[at]hotmail[dot]co[dot]uk and i would love to hear from you!