An Academy Award-winning filmmaker has invited primary schools to take part in his ambitious contemporary art project.

Film director and screenwriter Steve McQueen is inviting primary schools in London to take part in his Year Three project.

The project aims to photograph children who are studying in Year Three at school and to collectively join them together to be displayed at the Duveen Galleries.

Steve McQueen is a Turner Prize-winning artist and is also well known for his Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave.

Since his project was announced in September last year 1,340 schools have already signed up. It is estimated that 65,000 seven and eight-year-olds will be photographed for the project.

McQueen said: “This project is extremely close to my heart. When we first announced it, I had no idea how people would react, but the response has been amazing.

“I’m truly moved to see so many schools from across London sign up so quickly and I’d like to thank them all for helping to make this idea a reality.”

The schools in London that have already signed up will each have a photo of their Year Three class taken which will then be pieced together to create a mass portrait to represent an entire generation.

He added: “What I’m trying to do is to take a photo of every single child of London for this particular age as children are just becoming aware of their surroundings and understanding that they’re a bigger part of society.”

He is also urging more schools to take part to capture each child’s turning point of awareness, to ensure that no child is left out.

Mr McQueen adds: “I think these children are becoming aware of the world, children are powerful and are a part of London, this is the main city and all the possibilities are there for them.

“It is a very important and powerful piece. I want everyone to have the opportunity to participate and don’t want anyone to regret they weren’t involved.”

McQueen’s project revolves around the ideas of belonging, identity and citizenship and aims to photograph the moment when the young generation starts to grow into these ideas and concepts.

His artwork will hopefully inspire children to think and act creatively and give them the possibility to grow.

He encourages those who may want to follow in similar footsteps or get involved with creative outlets to take risks, push themselves and be open to new ideas.

He said: “Art isn’t about paints, a brush and canvas. I think do not be afraid to make mistakes, experiment.

“You will then know what does and does not work out. You have to try everything out.”

McQueen, who grew up in Hanwell in west London, dealt with difficulties during his time in education.

For children in London who may be dealing with similar issues and who find it difficult living in the city he advises of being a part of something bigger and hopes his project can help.

He added: “Give children the possibilities and the chance to explore instead of limiting them.

“The wrong way is not allowing your child to have some way of expressing themselves. I was fortunate my mother was very giving and said to try things out.”

The project is in partnership with Tate Britain, Artangel and a New Direction. Schools who sign up will be visited by a Tate photographer who has been briefed by Steve himself.

All schools across London with Year 3 pupils who wish to take part are invited to do so but need to sign-up to the Tate Year 3 Project before April 5.

For more information visit An exhibition of photographs will be on display at Tate Britain for six months from November 2019.