Transforming The Brain Stage


This year we invited 3D artist, Kristi Minchin to takeover the Brain Stage and create a large-scale, site-specific artwork, informed by our visual identity. Having worked with us for the last couple of years, she’s a Brainchild old-timer and so, perfect to take on the challenge.

Eager to hear more about her plans for the project, we caught-up with Minchin to discuss everything from working with found objects and crying at work, to doing DIY with her dad.

What did you study and how has this informed the work you do today?
I studied illustration at the Arts University Bournemouth. It was great because my tutors there really supported bringing illustration off the page and into as many different mediums as possible. Originally my work was based in paper craft but in my third year it moved into working with plastics and found objects. As my work got larger the next logical step was working in wood and carpentry.

Your work crosses between many different disciplines. How have you learnt the skills you need to work in so many different formats?
Apart from laser cutting inductions at university, I’ve never really had any professional training. I owe my dad a lot for teaching me the basics of using tools! He’s an engineer by trade and a DIY king, so really knows his stuff.



What advice would you give to someone who hasn’t worked in 3D or on a large-scale before?
This is the advice I give to myself before I go into every project and the advice I would give to anyone starting out: don’t expect it to be perfect. There is nothing wrong with wanting to try something new and, as creatives, we should always be pushing ourselves, but try to have realistic expectations. The first thing you make will probably be a bit wobbly or not quite as you’re expecting. That’s completely fine and the next thing you make will be a little bit better.

What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
I think it’s got to be my exhibition Geometric Playground from earlier this year. It was really difficult because of the size of the space and therefore the quantity of work required to fill it. But it was a challenge I was so happy to try and rise to. This work is the closest I’ve got to making something that looks like the stuff going on inside my head.


Kristi Minchin, Geometric Playground exhibition, commission for Artsdepot 2017


What’s been your biggest failure?
Oh god, there is too much to choose from. I pretty much cry on every project because something goes wrong that I’m not expecting. I should probably expect that by now! My most frustrating fail is planning out a piece that is supposed to move and then having it jam or not move. But on the flip side every time that happens I get a little bit better at making things work. My biggest fail is probably dropping a 2.5litre tub of bright yellow paint all over my bedroom carpet, don’t think I’ll get my deposit back once they see that!

What would you do if you were given an unlimited budget and any space you wanted?
How about a fully interactive piece that spans the whole of the Barbican Conservatory, featuring sculptures growing out of the walls, water features and giant plastic cacti?! An adult-sized urban jungle gym if you will. That would be pretty great.


Kristi Minchin, Commissioned archway for Brainchild’s HQ at Platform Southwark, 2017
Kristi Minchin, Commissioned archway for Brainchild’s HQ at Platform Southwark, 2017



Mock up design for the stage


What were your ideas behind the Brain Stage design?
I wanted to keep it simple as I tend to overcomplicate my designs and the brief was to create something that stands out from across the field. I started going back to basics, looking at the logo design and branding, so it made sense for Josie Tucker (Brainchild’s Head of Visual Identity) to get involved. Her designs became my main point of reference when designing the stage. 


Brainchild 2017 Poster
Josie Tucker, poster design for Brainchild 2017

What do you like about Josie’s designs?
I’ve been a fan of Josie’s work ever since she did an illustration of one of my designs for Brainchild in 2015. I love the freeness of her work. It’s a good contrast with mine, which is more geometric. Bright colours and bold shapes play a key part in both our work, so I think our styles blend very well.

Josie and Kristi preparing panels for the Brain Stage
Josie and Kristi preparing panels for the Brain Stage


What are you excited about for Brainchild this year?
The musical discoveries, the poetry, the woods, the political discussions and the pizza(!!) are all highlights from last year and probably will be again. The best bit though will always be the people. It’s a bit like going to summer camp. You come away feeling like you’ve made loads of new friends!

What are you up to after the festival?
I want to add some editorial photo shoots to my portfolio, so I hope to work collaboratively with photographers and fashion and jewellery designers on set design pieces. I’d also like to work on some sculptures that I could exhibit and sell online. First off though I’m going to Portugal for a week to relax by the pool and drink lots of wine!


The lineup for this year’s Brain Stage includes Kojey Radical, Ross From Friends, Alice Phoebe Lou, Susso and Andrew Ashong. See the full stage breakdown to see who else is playing.

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