Turner Prize-winning artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen, together with Tate Britain, Artangel and A New Direction, unveiled one of the most ambitious visual portraits of citizenship ever undertaken in one of the world’s largest cities. 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.
For 20 weeks on a daily basis , 600 schoolchildren will visit Tate Britain to view Year 3.
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 vast 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 powerful 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.