Two people standing looking at Steve McQueen Year 3: a wall lined with school photographs

Installation view, Steve McQueen Year 3 at Tate Britain © Tate

Explored through the vehicle of the traditional school class photograph, this art work is one of the most ambitious portraits of children ever undertaken in the UK. It offers us a glimpse of the capital’s future, a hopeful portrait of a generation to come. 

In 2018 Steve McQueen invited every Year 3 pupil in London to have their photograph taken by a team of specially trained Tate photographers. They included children from state primaries, independent schools, faith schools, special schools, pupil referral units and home-educated pupils. 

There’s an urgency to reflect on who we are and our future […] to have a visual reflection on the people who make this city work. I think it’s important and in some ways urgent.

Steve McQueen

These class photos are brought together into a single large-scale installation, capturing tens of thousands of Year 3 pupils in a milestone year in their development. 

Pupils featured in the exhibition have been visiting Tate Britain with their schools and families. At the end of the exhibition, each picture will be returned to the school where the photograph was taken. 

In December 2020, Year 3 was announced as the winner of the Visual Art category at 24th annual South Bank Sky Arts Awards, the only awards ceremony in the world to represent the entire spectrum of the arts. Joining the ceremony from Amsterdam, Steve thanked 'all of the schoolchildren and their teachers. Here’s to their future'.

Find out more

In 2020 an animation was commissioned to tell the story of the ethos and intention for Steve McQueen Year 3, explaining how it was delivered and the final outcome.

BBC London followed Steve McQueen and the rest of the team for 12 months during the making of Year 3 in the lead up to the exhibition opening in November 2019. This short film including an interview with Steve McQueen by BBC London’s Brenda Emmanus shows the initial thinking and the subsequent impact of the whole project.

This film shows a selection of the Year 3 photographs featured on over 600 billboards across London in November 2019. Read more about Artangel and the billboard exhibition.

Resources

Read more about A New Direction's role in the project.

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Project information

Year 3 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. 

Steve McQueen Year 3 is a partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction with collaboration from media partner BBC London and film partner Into Film. 

Supported by

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.