Thursday, 11:00am
2 November 2023


The second volume of James Mollison’s book is a moving photographic tale of children’s sleeping arrangements. Review by Janet South

James Mollison’s book Where Children Sleep was published in 2010 by Chris Boot and has long sold out. It features more than 50 portraits of children, shot plainly against a white background, opposite photos of their ‘bedrooms’ – I use inverted commas because sometimes what we see can hardly be described as a bedroom: sometimes there is no room, sometimes not even a bed. The pictures are both charming and quirky, but, in a more serious note, they observe the wide disparity of class and income in children’s lives. A short description under the portrait is bluntly factual and sometimes quite shocking.

Photographs featured in the original Where Children Sleep. Pictured here is six year old Bilal from Wadi Abu Hindi, The West Bank. Top. Spread from volume 2 featuring Tsengelmaa, aged eight, from Ulaanbaatar, the highly polluted capital of Mongolia.

Now the photographer has returned to the subject with Where Children Sleep Volume 2. Published this time by Hoxton Mini Press, it features 73 children, in 33 countries, across five continents. In the photographer’s note, Mollison reveals that he has become a father since the last book was published.

Has this changed his approach as he considers what the world may be like for his own children? Where the previous book was supported by a children’s charity, this second volume features stories Mollison found while travelling on assignments. He has explored ways in which the world has, and has not changed. He has included children from the LGBTQ+ community which ‘wasn’t a public debate the way it is today,’ he says. He also pays particular attention to communities fleeing war, poverty, extreme weather events, drought and pollution – all immense challenges we have left for our children as they move towards adulthood. We should make sure they have a good night’s sleep while we can.

Seven year old Ariya is also from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She shares her room with her sister.

Sager lives with his parents and older brother in one of the remotest areas of Nepal.

Mollison has published several books including Playground (2015), The Disciples (2008), The Memory of Pablo Escobar (2007) and James and other Apes (2004).

You can read more about Mollison’s photography in Karla Hammer’s article ‘Show and tell’ in Eye 82.

Cover of Where Children Sleep Volume 2, published by Hoxton Press, with illustrations by Patrick Waterhouse.

Janet South, Eye business manager, London

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.