the original brainchild?

one of the ongoing themes in this project was to try and find other references or versions of the brainchild concept within art and culture. all the versions i came across have been tagged ‘relatives’ and can be found here [link]

well, a couple of days ago somebody left a comment on the blog shedding further light on a previous find and providing new information. this is a screenshot of the comment…


you saw who wrote that, right? alex grey.

and not just any randomer called alex grey – but this alex grey!

let me start by saying:

HOLY SHITBALLS!! alex grey just commented on my blog!

fanboy moment over, lets now have a look at this piece he refers to…

Alex_Grey-Skullfetus skull fetus – alex grey – 1979 [link]

i had previously referenced his 2002 painting ‘interbeing’ [link], which is clearly the exact same concept. however, this B&W drawing made 23 years previously. i find it fascinating that artists have reoccurring themes in their work over such large spans of time.

so this now stands as the earliest version of the brainchild concept i know of, wherein a foetus is present in the place of a brain.

on a personal note, it is rather exciting to think that such a renowned artist has read my research (and seen the work I created as a result) enough to make such a relevant comment. genuinely inspiring!


the display

I must apologise, as I have been rather remiss in updating this blog. There isn’t that much to say, but for the sake of closure it should be done (even if it is 18months late!)

Sadly, the exhibition never did occur – but I did manage to get a photo when I had most of the materials together as a trial run..


As you can see the brainchild artefact makes up the centre piece, and is surrounded by various media. This method of transmedia storytelling allows us to weave the [fictitious] tale of The Brainchild from a variety of perspectives. Layered up and pieced together they reveal a much more elaborate truth lying behind the façade of a sideshow attraction.

The printed media included old photographs, medical documents and x-rays, a carnival poster, and close-up photographs of the exhibit itself.  The laptop displayed a digital timeline which showed the chronological history of item. There were also two large screens present, showing us the story from the perspective from the showman and his victim respectively.

Screenshot of the digital timeline:


First video:

Second video:


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!