Steve McQueen launches massive visual portraits of citizenship project on over 600 billboards across London

1. Steve McQueen, Year 3 © Steve McQueen and Tate. Courtesy of Artangel. Photo Theo Christelis
Steve McQueen Year 3 A partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction © Steve McQueen & Tate. Courtesy of Artangel Cable Street, London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Billboard photographed in situ by Theo Christeli

One of the most ambitious visual portraits of citizenship ever undertaken in one of the world’s largest cities was launched today on over 600 billboards across all of London’s 33 boroughs.

Each billboard features a class photograph of Year 3 pupils from a London primary school, taken as part of an ambitious new project created by London-born Turner Prize-winning artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen in partnership with Tate Britain, Artangel and A New Direction.

From 4 – 18 November 2019 people in London will catch sight of Year 3 classes on 613 billboards on roadsides, railways and underground stations across London. Artangel, who are renowned for producing extraordinary art in unexpected places, have worked with Steve McQueen to create the outdoor exhibition.

Year 3 is considered a milestone year in a child’s development and sense of identity, when 7-and 8-year-olds become more conscious of a much bigger world beyond their immediate family. Steve McQueen’s project captures this moment of excitement, anticipation and hope through the medium of the traditional class photograph, with rows of smiling children sitting or standing alongside their teachers.

The billboards are unveiled today ahead of a vast exhibition at Tate Britain featuring thousands of class photographs of Year 3 pupils, opening on 12 November and free for all to visit.

Steve McQueen said:

“The seeds of this project started 21 years ago with the birth of my first child, a milestone that put my own journey in perspective. My hope is that through the billboards millions of Londoners can reflect on the past, the present and the future not only of themselves but of their city. I am very excited that this portrait of London will be seen by so many people as part of their daily life in this great city that I love.”

The Year 3 outdoor exhibition is curated by James Lingwood, Co-Director, Artangel and Cressida Day, Managing Director, Artangel. The Tate Britain exhibition 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.

Steve McQueen Year 3 is a partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction. 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. With media partner BBC London and film education charity partner Into Film.

About The Artist
Steve McQueen was born in London in 1969 and currently lives and works in London and Amsterdam. He is one of the most renowned artists and filmmakers of his generation, creating works to be shown in gallery spaces as well as four cinematic films: Hunger (2008), Shame (2010), the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave (2013) and most recently Widows (2018). Solo exhibitions of his work have been held around the world, including a major retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Schaulager, Basel in 2012-13. He won the Turner Prize in 1999, represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and was awarded an OBE in 2002 and a CBE in 2011.

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper'