Olympic Flame: A Beacon For Education

Supported by:

Birmingham Metropolitan College



Project length:

4 weeks, start to finish


Birmingham, 2012 

Audience reached: 


Project summary:

The project was part of the staff development program at Birmingham Metropolitan College. The brief was to engage the whole college community and make them feel part of the wider context of the Olympic Flame coming Birmingham. Mukesh Kumar directed and choreographed the event. At the time he was Vice Principal (previously Director of Creative Arts) at BMET and acted as creative director to all significant promotional, marketing and PR events for the college. Staff representing different departments designed sections of a light installation that merged technology and art.

The final artwork was an Olympic Flame light wall that was approx 8m high and 22m long. Each department brought their own flavour to their section of the artwork so that it truly represented the community. Three Olympic torch bearers from the college then ‘lit’ the artwork – Dame Christine Braddock (the principal of Birmingham Metropolitan College) and two student torch bearers. They jointly touched the torch to the flame, which triggered a light display. Staff, families, college governors and members of the local community attended the event. It was an uplifting project that captured the Olympic spirit of teamwork and aspiring to excellence.

  • Encouraged team spirit at the college
  • Created a sense of community and belonging
  • Provided a visual reminder to aspire to excellence, motivating attendees
  • It was an integral part of the staff development program at the college
Social value:

It was a free event open to the community with lots of activities. Staff were encouraged to bring their families as guests. In addition, there was a fairground atmosphere with music, a bouncy castle and ice cream stands. The unveiling of the artwork and lighting up of the torch was the main event which brought a flavour of the Olympics, bringing communities together in celebration. As a cultural event, it offered wellbeing benefits for the local community. People who regularly attend cultural events experience lower rates of depression and anxiety, for instance (NCBI, 2012).

Using cherry pickers to assemble the final artwork
Dame Christine Braddock and 2 student torch bearers from Birmingham Metropolitan College

Project details

Aims of the project:

The event was part of the college’s staff development program. The project’s aims were:

  • Engage the public in creating a welcoming art event to invite athletes into the community
  • Make the Olympic Flame into an artistic event that engaged the public
  • Foster a sense of team spirit and community among staff at Birmingham Metropolitan College
Olympic Flame: A Beacon For Education

The project was part of Birmingham Metropolitan College’s staff development program, occurring against the backdrop of the Olympic Flame coming to Birmingham. There were 3 torch bearers at BMET college, including Dame Christine Braddock.

Prior to the torch arriving in Birmingham, staff from all the departments of the college created tile sections of a community artwork. They personalised their tiles. For example, he computer department used old keyboard keys to create messages on their section. Likewise, medical staff created an x-ray inspired design. 

Cherry-pickers lifted staff so they could put their tiles in place. Ultimately they created a community Olympic flame light wall, 8m high and 22m long. Mukesh choreographed the whole event to tie into the wider city Olympic torch program. Dame Christine Braddock and the two student torch bearers touched the torch to the artwork to jointly light the flame. Switches behind the artwork triggered ‘flames’ (made of light) to drop into a cauldron. This then lit the whole flame artwork with lights and moving graphics, illuminating the art. It was an impressive display of the intersection between technology and art. This event was designed to complement the moment when Dame Christine Braddock passed the Olympic torch onto Sir Cliff Richard. 

Staff, their families, college governors and members of the local community attended. Consequently, a sense of community was created for all attendees so that they all felt that they were part of the Olympic torch ceremony. The event incorporated music, games and a bouncy castle to create an engaging, uplifting atmosphere for everyone. The project took advantage of a wider celebratory event coming to Birmingham. As a result, it created a feel-good event for the community that encouraged teamwork and aspiring to excellence.

The computer department using keyboard keys to create their section of the artwork