Steve McQueen the Turner Prize-winning artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker has together with Tate Britain, Artangel and A New Direction, launched an ambitious project using the medium of the traditional school class photograph. This epic installation brings together images of tens of thousands of Year 3 pupils from across London. It offers us a glimpse of the city’s future – a hopeful portrait of a generation to come.
Mapping a picture of the present, McQueen’s remarkable artwork captures a milestone year in a child’s personal development
Year 3 places 76,146 children at the heart of Tate Britain. Over the last year 1,504 of London’s primary schools with Year 3 pupils – including State, Independent, Faith and Special schools, Pupil Referral Units and home educated children –agreed to have their classes specially photographed by a bespoke team of Tate photographers. Every one of the resulting 3,128 class photographs, depicting two-thirds of the city’s entire population of seven-to-eight-year olds, are brought together in a large-scale installation lining the walls of Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries and free for all to visit.
Mapping a picture of the present, McQueen’s remarkable artwork captures a milestone year in a child’s personal development – the moment when they become more conscious of the world beyond their immediate family. It is a critical time for them to develop confidence in all areas of life, to understand more about their place in a changing world and to think about the future. Depicting rows of children sitting or standing alongside their teachers and teaching assistants, Year 3 reflects this moment of excitement, anticipation and hope. As a record of the journey from childhood through adolescence to adulthood, it is also a poignant but provocative reminder of how lives are shaped and formed.
In addition to the large installation at Tate Britain, millions of people will also catch sight of Year 3 classes in a city-wide outdoor exhibition organised by Artangel, who are renowned for producing extraordinary art in unexpected places. Spanning all of London’s 33 boroughs from 4 to 18 November 2019, it is estimated that almost one in every ten people in the city will see one of the 613 Year 3 billboards posted at roadsides, railways and underground stations. Together, these two exhibitions form a celebration of the young people who will make London their own in years to come, and a meditation on the social forces and personal changes that shape all our lives.
Creative education specialists A New Direction led a major outreach campaign to recruit and engage primary schools, working with the advice of the NSPCC. In the process, pupils participated in educational workshops centred on the project’s key themes of identity and belonging. Specially-created learning resources are still available for all schools to download, exploring art as a persuasive prompt for conversations about how we view the world, and teachers can access a free online course entitled Developing Literacy: A Journey from Still Image to Film, created by film education charity Into Film. Also coinciding with Year 3, Tate Modern will stage a major exhibition surveying the last 20 years of McQueen’s career as a visual artist, open from 13 February to 11 May 2020.
Year 3 at Tate Britain is curated by Clarrie Wallis, Senior Curator of Contemporary British Art, and Nathan Ladd, Assistant Curator of Contemporary British Art, and is produced by Erin Barnes and Gemma Clarke. The outdoor exhibition is curated by James Lingwood, Co-Director, Artangel and Cressida Day, Managing Director, Artangel.
Year 3 is a partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction. It is supported by Joseph and Abigail Baratta, De Ying Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, with additional support from Dana and Albert R. Broccoli Charitable Foundation, The Garcia Family Foundation, Wagner Foundation and Tate Americas Foundation. With media partner BBC London and Film education charity partner Into Film.
Steve McQueen was born in London in 1969 and currently lives and works in London and Amsterdam. He is one of the most renowned artists and filmmakers of his generation, creating works to be shown in gallery spaces as well as four cinematic films: Hunger (2008), Shame (2010), the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave (2013) and most recently Widows (2018). Solo exhibitions of his work have been held around the world, including a major retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Schaulager, Basel in 2012-13. He won the Turner Prize in 1999, represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and was awarded an OBE in 2002 and a CBE in 2011.
Artangel produces and presents extraordinary art in unexpected places in London, the UK and beyond. For over 30 years Artangel has generated some of the most talked-about art of recent times, including projects with Clio Barnard, Jeremy Deller, PJ Harvey, Roger Hiorns, Michael Landy, Steve McQueen, Rachel Whiteread and Taryn Simon. Appearing anywhere from empty prisons to underground vaults, daytime TV to the sky at night, Artangel produces art that surprises and inspires and wouldn’t be possible within the confines of a gallery. Artangel is generously supported by Arts Council England and the private patronage of Artangel International Circle, Special Angels, Guardian Angels, and The Company of Angels. Visit artangel.org.uk
A New Direction in London’s leading creative education agency. As a London-based non-profit, generating opportunities for children and young people to unlock their creativity, it works with schools, cultural venues, local authorities and a range of other partners to support children and young people to be creative and experience culture, while identifying areas of inequality and campaigning for policy change. Visit anewdirection.org.uk