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Steve McQueen

Year 3

London
04 November 2018 - 03 May 2020
A gift to a generation ★★★★★ inews
Among the most arresting public art I've ever seen ★★★★ Evening Standard
Unassailable in its grandeur ★★★★ The Observer


Steve McQueen’s epic portrait of London’s year 3 pupils was presented on billboards across London in November 2019 and was exhibited at Tate Britain, programmed until May 3 2020. However, due to Covid-19, Tate closed their galleries on 17 March.

Year 3 is one of the most ambitious visual portraits of citizenship ever undertaken in one of the world’s largest and most diverse cities.

Every primary school in London was invited to take part in the project. 1,504 schools of every kind – state, independent, faith and special needs schools – took up the invitation and a total of 3,168 year 3 class photographs were taken. All the photographs take the form of a traditional class photo, with children sitting and standing in rows together with their teachers and teaching assistants.  

Year 3 is considered a milestone year in a child's development – when they start to be more aware of being part of a bigger world beyond their families and friendship groups. The individual class photos are a microcosm of society, and blown up into monumental billboards or gathered together in an epic group portrait, they are a testament to London's great diversity. Looking directly at the camera, the children face the photographer and the viewer, the present and the future.


Image: Steve McQueen, Year 3. A partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction. © Steve McQueen & Tate. Courtesy of Artangel. Billboard photographed in situ by Theo Christelis.

Billboard Exhibition

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Billboard Exhibition

Large-scale images of year 3 class photographs featured on over 600 billboards across all 33 London boroughs in November 2019. It was one of the most wide-reaching public art exhibitions ever presented across the city. ⁣  

Around 7 million people came across the billboards on the side of busy main roads and high streets. They appeared on over 200 railway platforms and 100 London Underground stations – including a platform takeover at Pimlico Underground station that saw 16 billboards on one platform.

You can explore all the billboard locations here.

This exhibition was nominated for the Outdoor Media Awards 2020 in the Community Social Impact and Installation and Experience Award categories.


Image: Year 3 as seen at Loughborough Junction. Photograph: Theo Christelis. Year 3 is a partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction.

Tate Britain Exhibition

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Tate Britain Exhibition

All 3,128 photographs of Year 3 classes were installed as an epic single work on the walls of the Duveen Galleries at the heart of Tate Britain, 12 November 2019 – 3 May 2020.

The class photos contain the faces of 76,146 children from 1,504 London primary schools. That’s two-thirds of the city’s entire population of seven-to-eight-year olds. ⁣


Image: A class that was part of this exhibition visiting Tate Britain. Photograph: David Lennon © Tate

About Steve McQueen

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Steve McQueen

Artist and director Steve McQueen first collaborated with Artangel on Caribs’ Leap / Western Deep, an immersive cinematic installation that premiered at Documenta X in Kassel and in an underground space in London in 2002. 

In 2016, McQueen installed a new sculpture – Weight – in a cell in Reading Prison as part of Artangel’s project, Inside.

The collaboration continued with Year 3 which, in 2019, resulted in one of the most ambitious visual portraits of citizenship ever undertaken, in one of the world’s largest and most diverse cities.

Steve McQueen is perhaps best known for his feature films Hunger, Shame, and Widows. These movies are just one element of a wide-ranging body of work in film and video which has seen McQueen win the Turner Prize in 1999, the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008, and an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2014. 

A major survey of Steve McQueen’s work was presented at Tate Modern in 2020.

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Images: (left) Steve McQueen’s Year 3 class at Little Ealing Primary School, 1977.* Photographer: unknown; (above) Steve McQueen portrait. Courtesy BBC London. © Tate


*N.B. Every effort has been made to contact and gain approval from the individuals in this photography. If you have any new information or are featured in the image, please contact pressoffice@tate.org.uk . Steve McQueen is seated fifith from the left in the middle row.

Press

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There is true delight to be found in the detail of these pictures. The joy on the faces of these children and their teachers pays testament to the work each photographer did to make them feel comfortable. Here is gorgeous, vivid portraiture, miles away, actually, from the standard class photograph – Serena Davies, The Telegraph

Selected Press

From a distance the work forms a multicoloured patchwork of uniforms and school backgrounds all shot in the same format. Then closer up you are drawn into the glorious individuality of these seven and eight year olds—smiling, serious, alert, some neat, some scruffy, some pulling faces—all at a key moment in their development and with their futures ahead of them. – Louisa Buck, The Art Newspaper, 12 November 2019

Year 3 made me proud of London, though, in all its joyous inclusivity, in all its appreciation of difference, and variety. At a time when this mass delusion of a monocultural, white England is being inflicted upon so many of us, Year 3 made my heart sing and I felt, for the first time in a long while, hope.– Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, i News, 24 November 2019

The posters are unadorned bar the hashtag #Year3project. No mention of McQueen, Tate, the producers Artangel or anyone else, just the children, their teachers and teaching assistants, gazing out at you. It’s among the most arresting public art I’ve ever seen. – Ben Luke, Evening Standard, 13 November 2019

The best thing about Steve McQueen’s ‘Year 3’ project is imagining all the gammon-faced, xenophobic, anti-immigration bigots it’s going to get frothing with rage. Because the artist and filmmaker’s project is a brazen, forthright, unapologetic celebration of multi-cultural London.  – Eddy Frankel, Time Out, November 2019

There is true delight to be found in the detail of these pictures. The joy on the faces of these children and their teachers pays testament to the work each photographer did to make them feel comfortable. Here is gorgeous, vivid portraiture, miles away, actually, from the standard class photograph. And furthermore, not every image is quite as identikit as it might first appear, with smaller groups and special needs classes requiring a relaxation of McQueen’s rigid format.” –  Serena Davies, The Telegraph, 11 November 2019

There may be no single meaning to “Year 3”, but that doesn’t make it without social significance. Looking up at a whole generation of young Londoners, I find myself flooded with a mix of awe, curiosity, nostalgia and optimism. Though the portraits take the same general format, I start noticing the differences between them: the girls wearing checked summer dresses and those wearing woolly tights; the classes standing in gyms in front of decades-old PE apparatus and those in classrooms painted a pristine white; the students in blazers and ties and those who don’t wear a uniform at all. Most of all, when whiteness is frustratingly dominant in the UK’s most established art institutions, it is joyous to see many faces from all different backgrounds fill the walls – a true celebration of our brilliantly diverse capital city.– Ellen Pierson-Hagger, New Statesman, 20 November 2019

Production Credits

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Production Credits

The outdoor exhibition is curated by James Lingwood, Co-Director, Artangel and Cressida Day, Managing Director, Artangel; and was produced by Seyi Adelekun, Production Assistant
 
Postercope
Kir Sandom, Mike Skene, Glen Wilson, Lyndsey Westney
 
The Tate Britain exhibition is curated by Clarrie Wallis, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art and Nathan Ladd, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art; and is produced by Erin Barnes and Gemma Clarke and Clare Morris
 
Photography
Rachel Blake, Irene Chynoweth, Thomas Dryden-Kelsey, Clare Hoddinott, Cora James, David Lennon, Deniz Mamikoglu, Jessica McDermott and Francesca Snelling
 
Editing and Design
Philip Lewis
 
Photographic Printing
Isidora Bojovic, Sam Day and Victoria Miller
 
Framing
Holly Brown and Rafael Pedrosa Dorado
 
Installation
Carolyn Kerr, Charlotte Sanguinetti, Andy Sheila, Adam Wozniak, the Art Handling Team and M.C Designers Ltd

Image: Year 3 class at Mayflower Primary School, Tower Hamlets, 2018. © Tate
 

Credits

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Who made this possible?

Credits

Steve McQueen Year 3 is a partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction. 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.

Artangel is generously supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and by the private patronage of The Artangel International CircleSpecial AngelsGuardian Angels and The Company of Angels.

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