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Where Children Sleep

“Where Children Sleep” tells stories of diverse children around the world, through portraits and pictures of their bedrooms. Photographed by James Mollison.

It was a small room, at the top of the house. For a time, it was home to tropical fish. Later, two pet mice slept there, in a home made of fruit crates. The walls of the room were covered with posters of Madonna and Duran Duran. Then it was the Rolling Stones. Then Jimi Hendrix.

This was the childhood bedroom in Oxford, England, of James Mollison, 37, a documentary photographer who was born in Kenya and now lives in Venice. He had the luxury as a boy of adapting his bedroom to reflect his changing interests.

“As a child, that’s your little space within the house,” Says Mollison.

“When I was asked me to come up with an idea for engaging with children’s rights, I found myself thinking about my bedroom: how significant it was during my childhood, and how it reflected what I had and who I was. It occurred to me that a way to address some of the complex situations and social issues affecting children would be to look at the bedrooms of children in all kinds of different circumstances. From the start, I didn’t want it just to be about ‘needy children’ in the developing world, but rather something more inclusive, about children from all types of situations. It seemed to make sense to photograph the children themselves, too, but separately from their bedrooms, using a neutral background. My thinking was that the bedroom pictures would be inscribed with the children’s material and cultural circumstances ‘ the details that inevitably mark people apart from each other ‘ while the children themselves would appear in the set of portraits as individuals, as equals ‘ just as children. This selection of diptych’s from 56 in the book (Chris Boot November 2010). The book is written and presented for an audience of 9-13 year olds ‘ intended to interest and engage children in the details of the lives of other children around the world, and the social issues affecting them, while also being a serious photographic essay for an adult audience.”