'What If…?' Banner Project - Innovation now
'What If…?' Banner Project - Innovation now - inspired by William Murdoch


Pupils in Cornwall develop imaginative banner designs inspired William Murdoch an 18th century engineer and inventor


In the 1780's, in the busy mining capital of Redruth Cornwall, William Murdoch asked himself some searching 'What if…?' questions such as:

'What if we used pressurised steam to propel coaches instead of Horses?'

'What if I used the gas that comes of coal dust to light my house instead of candles?'

In exploring and finding the answers to these questions he made some of the most important technological advancements of his age.

In the spring of 2005 pupils from Redruth Community School and Pool Community College and from Pennoweth, St Day, Treloweth and Stithians Primary Schools have been working with artists from the arts organization Cloth of Gold developing there own 'What if…?' questions.

The Process

Pupils from the different schools all began exploring the theme of the project by playing the 'What If...?' card game to start pupils thinking of their different exploratory questions that then inspired their creative work.

Cards featuring a wide variety of different images (either their own drawings or photos) were juxtaposed at random.

Pupils were then asked to find a 'What if...?' question from the different pictures in front of them making innovative and original connections between them.

They then used a variety of different ways to develop ideas to use in their final designs.

Processes included:
  • Games - playing 'scribble' and 'aliens' on the computer
  • Digitising, combining and developing images drawn onto their cards using the computer
  • Screen printing and mono printing onto fabric - working on collaborative and individual designs.
  • Making 'glue-less collages' made out of fabric scraps and digital fabric prints then capturing them onto digital cameras
  • Downloading images from the internet
  • Photographing one another dressing up and adopting exaggerated 'What if...?' poses
Finally designs were developed on the computer in Adobe Photoshop Elements or Microsoft PowerPoint to combine, layer and adjust the different elements that they had created.


Pupils used traditional and new technologies to produce the series of high quality, individual and collaborative produced designs that were then digitally printed onto fabric banners that decorated the length of Fore Street in Redruth, Cornwall for the towns annual Murdoch Day celebrations.

'What If...?' Project Partners

Initiated by Redruth Education & Economic Arts Partnership (REAP), pupils worked with the arts organisation Cloth of Gold who planned and delivered the initiative utilising the exciting new CPR Learning Space - one of the national 'classrooms of the future' ..


Cloth of Gold

William Murdoch

National Curriculum

This project links purposefully to:

Art and design at key stage 3 (Year 9)
Unit 9C: Personal places, public spaces

Art and design at key stages 1 and 2 (Year 5/6)
Unit 5C: Talking textiles