ON MY PARENTS' ISLAND - xanthe berkeley
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When I took these photos of our boys for a prompt as part of the Art & The Heart workshop, it stirred something inside me. I loved the intimateness of them and the essence of childhood they gave. Initially I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that made these portraits different from others I have of the boys. It’s was probably the monochrome palette & kinda film like feel, which is different from what I usually create. But there was something else… our boys are relaxed… there is a sense of comfort… so was it to do with the location?.

This got me thinking about how children feel & act when they are in their parent’s bed. I remember the comfort of it as a child. If I was ill, I would lie in there with the telly on, so cosy and warm… and Sunday mornings were spent around my parent’s bed, cups of tea, reading the papers and me hanging out with my Beano.

Children do behave differently in their parent’s bed. I see it with the photo sessions I do & with the time capsules I create. They turn it into a playground… jumping or making games in there and there’s sensory experience; the feel and the smell is familiar and reassuring creating a relaxed environment.

There’s also the scale of the bed against the child… a small newborn baby laying on the duvet, or a toddler lost in the pillows or an elder child stretched across the length… it shows that moment in time beautifully.

This place is like an island to them; to play, laugh, relax, have fun, be thoughtful & just be… I want to discover how different children react on their parents’ island.

I’ve photographed a few other children already for this project, which I look forward to sharing in the coming weeks. Today I’m also putting the call out to those who might be interested in having me photograph their children and how they explore their parent’s island.

The idea would be I would come and photograph (maybe video too)… exploring this idea and make a series out of it. Please contact me for more details or if you know a family who might be interested, please send this link to them.



  • Kathleen
    Posted at 21:55h, 17 December Reply

    I love this whole concept! My son is 4-years-old and has always loved being in my bed. Now, he doesn’t sleep with me, but spends so much other time there: at night time reading stories, cuddling on Saturday mornings, playing on it while I get ready. I cannot tell you how many times I have kicked a small action figure or rolled over onto a stuffed toy in the night. I never ever spent time in my parents bed (they kept their room as a sanctuary for them, rightfully so, but my son and I just love getting cozy in my bed. I have so many pictures of him lounging in it.

    I would love to participate and am sorry we are so far away! Look forward to seeing more, nonetheless.

  • Tina
    Posted at 15:25h, 02 October Reply

    i love this idea so much, and it’s so true, there’s just something about kids on their parents bed. i love it. 🙂

  • Sherri B.
    Posted at 13:48h, 02 October Reply

    So lovely and sweet and intimate…it’s their island of safety and comfort. Your photos are gorgeous, as are your thoughts about them!

  • Joey
    Posted at 20:40h, 01 October Reply

    I love everything about this post. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 18:15h, 01 October Reply

    Xanthe this is the most beautiful post…I love all the shots and the black and white is just so perfect…a photo any mom would love to have of her children later in life…I, unfortunately never experienced what you have shown…but fortunately my kids and my grandson have…Here’s to more bed playing..

  • Franny/mrseliotbooks
    Posted at 16:50h, 01 October Reply

    Let’s try and make a date. Re above – I have a 27″ mac and your photos are fine. :-/ that’s my confused face. x

  • Frederick Bouchant
    Posted at 15:38h, 01 October Reply

    Hey xanthe,

    I have been silently following your incredible
    work for a few months now. Please keep on posting
    your magnificent photos and videos.

    Recently I bought a new 27-inch iMac,
    which has a 2560-by-1440 resolution.
    Using this monster, your videos are still fine,
    but your photos sadly are so tiny and small to fully
    appreciate your style, work and eye for detail.

    Perhaps you could up the resolution,
    so that the long side has a minimum of 1024
    or whatever you see fit.
    At the moment they look like stamps <3

    I really admire your work and
    let me thank you again for sharing it.

    Frederick Bouchant

  • Shelley
    Posted at 15:21h, 01 October Reply

    This is so beautiful, I just love it.x

  • Jodi
    Posted at 14:44h, 01 October Reply

    so beautiful, xanthe.

  • joanna brown
    Posted at 14:09h, 01 October Reply

    I just love this idea so beautiful and I can remember how I felt in my mum and dads bed too when i think back, these will be great memories. x x

  • lisa
    Posted at 13:39h, 01 October Reply

    You vision amazes me. Anyone who takes part in this will end up with the most gift, stunning images that have heart and meaning and that will long to be cherished.

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