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Steve McQueen invites schools to take part in new artwork

PRIMARY PROJECT: Steve McQueen wants every school in London to get involved in his latest artwork (Image: John Russo)

OSCAR-WINNING FILMMAKER and Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen is leading a London-wide project to capture portraits of tens of thousands of Year 3 pupils, he announced today.

The project, which is in partnership with Tate, Artangel and A New Direction, will be one of the world’s most ambitious contemporary artworks. It will aim to document children from every primary school in London.

Speaking at the launch this morning in Tate Britain’s Clore School Centre, McQueen said the idea had developed as he began to reflect on his own journey and childhood, and think about the different trajectories and paths that people pursue as they become adults.

“I wanted to reflect on how I got here,” he said.

McQueen will not be taking any of the photographs personally, but has recruited a team of 30 photographers who have been given clear directions on how to capture the students.

He said he wanted to stick closely to the traditional set up of school photos.

“That formality I wanted to keep at every single school...unique but the form stays the same,” he said.

REFLECTION: Steve McQueen, pictured here in Year 3 (fifth from left in the middle row ), was inspired by his looking back on his own childhood

The ambitious art project will work to provide a visual representation of the “milestone year in a child’s development and sense of identity, when they become more conscious of the world beyond their immediate family”.

The portraits will be on display from November 2019 to May 2020 at the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain. Entry to the exhibition will be free to all.

Following the installation, a major survey exhibition of McQueen’s work will be staged at Tate Modern.

Schools across London are being invited to take part in the project. Primary schools can register at and choose a time and date for a Tate photographer to attend their school and take their Year 3 class photo.

In addition to the portraits, specially created learning resources on the themes of belonging, identity and citizenship will be available to schools around the country.

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