Billboards of schoolchildren unveiled in every London borough as part of ‘epic’ Steven McQueen project

PUBLISHED: 10:08 04 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:08 04 November 2019

A billboard in Cable Street, Tower Hamlets. Picture: Theo Christelis

A billboard in Cable Street, Tower Hamlets. Picture: Theo Christelis

Theo Christelis

One of the most ambitious visual portraits of citizenship ever undertaken in one of the world’s largest cities has been launched today, November 4, on more than 600 billboards across all of London’s 33 boroughs.

A billboard in Camden Road. Picture: Theo ChristelisA billboard in Camden Road. Picture: Theo Christelis

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 November 4-18, people in London will catch sight of Year 3 classes on 613 billboards on roadsides, railways and underground stations across London.

More than 1,300 London primary schools have taken part in the project with tens of thousands of pupils being photographed over the past year.

There will be five billboards in Barking, 15 in Bexley, 13 in Bromley, 18 in Havering, 14 in Newham, 11 in Redbridge and 20 in Tower Hamlets.

A billboard in Camden Road. Picture: Theo ChristelisA billboard in Camden Road. Picture: Theo Christelis

Artangel, who are renowned for producing extraordinary art in unexpected places, have worked with Steve McQueen to create the outdoor exhibition.

Steve 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.

You may also want to watch:

"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."

Year 3 is considered a milestone year in a child's development and sense of identity, when seven and eight-year-olds become more conscious of a much bigger world beyond their immediate family.

Steve McQueen's project aims to capture 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.

James Lingwood, co-director of Artangel, said: "Year 3 is a resounding expression of Artangel's belief that art can be anywhere.

"It's a celebration of children and a question to the rest of us - what kind of future are we making for them?"

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

Send us your photos if you spot one of the billboards in your borough.

The outdoor billboard exhibition curated by Artangel will launch from Monday, November 4 to November 18, ahead of the exhibition at Tate Britain.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Romford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Romford Recorder