Seeing double? How McQueen gets Poplar’s Manorfield schoolchildren face to face with themselves

Study this Manorfield School class photo carefully to see your eyes aren't deceiving you. Picture cl

Study this Manorfield School class photo carefully to see your eyes aren't deceiving you. Picture clue: Manorfield Primary (front 2 rows), Steve McQueen (back 3 rows) - Credit: Manorfield/McQueen

No… you’re not seeing double, however many pre-Christmas spirits you may have sipped.

The back three rows in this picture are actually a giant photo portrait of children and their class teacher from Manorfield Primary school taken by Turner Prize award-winning artist Steve McQueen for the Tate Britain galleries.

The front three rows are the same Year 3 children and same teacher from the school in Poplar one year on, this time snapped in front of the original portrait.

It was part of McQueen's art project showing the changes at that point in their young lives from one picture to the next.

"Year 3 is an important time in a child's life," he explains. "It's at that turning point you're getting to understand your surroundings, one of those moments where perhaps you understand gender, race and class."


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The project involved 3,000 class photos picturing 76,000 children around London which ended up on billboards.

Manorfield headteacher Paul Jackson said: "It created such a buzz. Parents came up to teachers to show them billboards that they saw in the street—some even went out and hunted them down!"

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The children in the portrait visited one of the street billboards where their faces lit up at seeing how big it was.

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