Steve McQueen is an artist and filmmaker, most wellknown for his films Hunger and the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave. This month sees the launch of his Tate Year 3 Project – a hugely ambitious work that will see him collaborate with Tate Britain, art collective Artangel and the not-for-profit outreach organisation A New Direction in an effort to create and exhibit a photographic portrait of London’s year 3 schoolchildren – as many of them as possible.
McQueen’s aim with the project is to capture a year in the life of London’s approximately 115,000 seven- and eight-year-olds via a multitude of traditionally styled class photographs depicting them sitting or standing beside their teachers and TAs. “The idea came from thinking about my past and my present and how I got here,” he explains.
“I wanted to have an idea of the map of London, the future. London is very much in my heart. It’s very much a part of me and what shaped me as a person. Year 3 is an important time in a child’s life, because it’s at that point that you’re getting to understand your surroundings. It’s one of those moments where there’s a turning point and you’re getting to understand, possibly, gender, race and class.”
Between October this year and July 2019, Tate photographers will be visiting schools across London to take class photographs for the project. Every single one of the city’s 2,410 primary schools is being invited to take part in the project by signing up and booking a photography session at tateyear3project.org.uk, where they will also be able to access supporting learning resources, consent templates for pupils and staff and agreement forms for headteachers. A child protection policy covering all work relating to the the Tate Year 3 Project will be made available on request.
The accompanying KS2 learning resources, devised by A New Direction and Tate Learning, will help schools further explore the project’s main themes of belonging, identity and citizenship via a set of materials linked to PSHE, citizenship, literacy and art and design. Also on the cards is a livestreamed lesson scheduled for spring 2019, which aims to let primary school classes across the country watch and engage with the project, and staff at participating schools will have the option of signing up for free teacher CPD and other online opportunities for supporting creativity and curriculum learning.
From November 2019 until May 2020, Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries will play host to a vast exhibition of the assembled photographs that will be free to public. Artangel, which has gained a reputation for ‘producing extraordinary art in unexpected places’ will be putting on a separate series of outdoor exhibitions in each of London’s 33 boroughs, where passers-by will be able to get a glimpse of the project for themselves. The climax of the project will then overlap with a major survey exhibition at Tate Britain of McQueen’s work that runs from February until May 2000.
Main image: Year 3 class at Mayflower Primary School, Tower Hamlets 2018. Photo © Tate