On Air
On Air

On Air springs from the BBC's collaboration with All Souls Primary School London and artists from arts group Cloth of Gold.

Children in Year 5 (9-10 years) were asked to explore how broadcasting has changed since BBC Broadcasting House opened its doors in 1932, and to think about what broadcasting means to them now in their world and their times.

Pupils conjured up their reactions in a range of visual collages manipulated on a computer.

The result is an explosion of colour, shape and line - archetypal images of the building, its ra-dio mast and Eric Gill's famous statue of The Sower in the foyer of the building, combine with colour waves, body shapes of themselves as recievers and transmitters of digital information.

The project took place over five afternoon sessions at the BBC Learning's digital centre, 21CC. Each week the pupils worked on a different aspect of the project. Each session involved a lot of discussion to reinforce the idea and to engage the pupils in thinking about the enormous changes that have taken place in communication technologies.

Week 1 - The history of Broadcasting House.

In response to a powerpoint presentation pupils engaged in a discussion on Broadcasting House exploring what it would have been like in the thirties to gather round a radio to listen to the news. Using the images from the powerpoint presentation they were introduced to the tools and processes in Photoshop Elements and began to create digital collages merging im-ages of the building with old fashioned valve radios.

Week 2- Visit to Broadcasting House

Using sketchbooks and digital cameras pupils collected information about the building. They made sketches of the famous statue of the 'Sower' by Eric Gill located in the foyer area and then went on to the roof to view the construction site of the new development which when complete will turn Broadcasting House in to a 21st Century Media Centre.

Week 3

Using the drawings and digital photographs from week two the pupils began to digitally layer the old and the new, combining images of the building site with the 'Sower' who is now spreading the seeds of the new digital age.

Week 4

The pupils brought in photographs and drawings of devices that they have in their homes to receive and transmit information. These included drawings and photographs of televisions, mobile phones, fax machines, computers etc. The drawings and photographs were scanned and incorporated in to the digital collages that they had begun in week three. In addition each pupil was photographed as either a transmitter or receiver and used the drawing and painting tools in Photoshop Elements to create multicoloured radio wave eminating from their bodies.

Week 5

The final week involved the pupils in creating a new digital composition that combining ele-ments of the images created throughout the project .The layer facility in the software enabled them to combine the different elements that represented not only their journey through the project but also an historical journey from recievers of information in the 1930's to 21st cen-tury recievers and transmitters a wide range of information to a potential global audience. In addition some pupils used Powerpoint to develop a slideshow of images that demonstrated how they had developed their ideas over the duration of the project.


The children's collages were curated by artists from the Cloth of Gold group into one integrated image. On Air is 20 metres high and 15 metres wide and is probably the largest pupil digital image ever. On Air was on show at Broadcasting House July to September 2004.