21 September 2018 | Adam Sherwin | Independent
Steve McQueen, the Oscar-winning film director, unveiled an ambitious contemporary art project to create a portrait of all 115,000 of London’s Year 3 school pupils.
The Turner Prize-winning artist plans to oversee photographs of tens of thousands of schoolchildren from across the capital over the next nine months.
Every primary school with Year 3 pupils will be invited to have their classes photographed for the project.
The resulting artwork will be displayed at Tate Britain and around London next autumn.
Legal hurdles Parents must give their consent for children to be depicted in the project, which McQueen said would comply with new requirements for safeguarding children and data protection.
Children will not be named when the work is displayed. Steve McQueen wants pupils to “take your finger out of your nose” when they’re photographed (PA) Moment of Hope
The project aims to capture the moment of excitement, anxiety and hope in the milestone year for the seven and eight-year-olds, through the traditional medium of the class photograph.
Around 115,000 seven-year-olds have started the school year in a new class in London. Rows of children from London’s 2,410 primary schools will sit and stand alongside their teachers and teaching assistants to show the diversity of the city where McQueen was born as well as the potential of the generation that are growing up in the capital.
Representation of London The 12 Years a Slave director said a “visual representation of the people who will make our city work” was an “urgent” project. Year 3 was an “important turning point” when children “start being aware of gender, race and class” and begin to think about how their future might pan out.
A team of 30 photographers, specially briefed by McQueen, will fan out across the schools to take the portraits.
The artist’s direction to the children is “sit still and smile” and “take your finger out of your nose.” Private schools will also be able to take part. Visitor influx The installation of the photographs will take over the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain from November 2019 to May 2020, which will be free to visit.
The Tate is expecting a major influx of visitors as children and their families descend on the galleries to see themselves represented. The project is a partnership between Tate, creative learning specialists A New Direction and Artangel, which produces and presents art in unexpected places.
Brexit message McQueen said his experience of Year 3 was a time of “excitement”. But he was inspired by finding his own Year 3 photo and wondering “whatever happened to so-and-so, and how did I get from there to be sitting here in the Tate?”
Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate, said she hoped a future project could extend the school photo concept nationwide. Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain, said the artwork representing London’s diversity was “politically resonant” in the year of Brexit.
Every London primary can register their school at tateyear3project.org.uk. They can choose a date and time for a Tate photographer, briefed by McQueen, to visit their school and take their Year 3 class photo