By Katy Cowan

Do you remember the school playground? The fun and laughter, the occasional sadness and tears? For British photographer James Mollison he believes his most important childhood memories were from those school breaks, running around in the fresh air with friends.

Which is why he decided to create a series entitled Playground, beginning with a trip back to his own school in Winchester, before visiting others all across the world. He explained: “The playground had been a space of excitement, games, bullying, laughing, tears, teasing, fun, and fear. It seemed an interesting place to go back to and explore with photography. I started the project in the UK, revisiting my school and some of the other schools nearby. I became fascinated by the diversity of children’s experiences, depending on their school. The contrasts between British schools made me curious to know what schools were like in other countries.

“Most of the images from the series are composites of moments that happened during a single break time — a kind of time-lapse photography. I have often chosen to feature details that relate to my own memories of the playground. Although the schools I photographed were very diverse, I was struck by the similarities between children’s behaviour and the games they played.”

Visiting schools in everywhere from Africa, India and China to Italy, America and Russia – you can discover more of James’ fascinating Playground series at www.jamesmollison.com. Or check him out on Instagram.

Main image: Dechen Phodrang, Thimphu, Bhutan

Pilgrim's School - Winchester, UK

Pilgrim’s School – Winchester, UK

Stonyhurst College - Lancashire, UK

Stonyhurst College – Lancashire, UK

Sacred Heart Catholic Secondary School - London, UK

Sacred Heart Catholic Secondary School – London, UK

Valley View School, Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya

Valley View School, Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya

Kaloleni School, Nairobi, Kenya

Kaloleni School, Nairobi, Kenya

Freretown Community Primary School, Mombasa, Kenya

Freretown Community Primary School, Mombasa, Kenya

Virani Deaf and Dumb School, Rajkot, Gujarat, India

Virani Deaf and Dumb School, Rajkot, Gujarat, India

Rajkumar College, Rajkot, Gujarat, India

Rajkumar College, Rajkot, Gujarat, India

Gram Panchayat School, Ludiya, Kutch, Gujarat, India

Gram Panchayat School, Ludiya, Kutch, Gujarat, India

Ugo Foscolo Elementary School, Murano, Venice

Ugo Foscolo Elementary School, Murano, Venice

Tiferet-Menachem Chabad School, Beitar IIIit, West Bank

Tiferet-Menachem Chabad School, Beitar IIIit, West Bank

Holtz High School, Tel Aviv, Israel

Holtz High School, Tel Aviv, Israel

Maamounia Elementary Rhimal Area, Gaza City, Gaza

Maamounia Elementary Rhimal Area, Gaza City, Gaza

Bhakta Vidyashram, Kathmandu, Nepal

Bhakta Vidyashram, Kathmandu, Nepal

Seishin Joshi Gakuin School, Tokyo

Seishin Joshi Gakuin School, Tokyo

Shohei Elementary School, Tokyo

Shohei Elementary School, Tokyo

School #2013, Moscow

School #2013, Moscow

Cadet School of the Heroes of Space, Moscow

Cadet School of the Heroes of Space, Moscow

Nativity School, Los Angeles

Nativity School, Los Angeles

St. Mary of the Assumption Elementary School, Brookline, Massachusetts

St. Mary of the Assumption Elementary School, Brookline, Massachusetts

Affiliated Primary School of South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China

Affiliated Primary School of South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China

Pei Qiao Central Middle School, Qingyuan, China

Pei Qiao Central Middle School, Qingyuan, China

He Huang Yu Xiang Middle School, Qingyuan, China

He Huang Yu Xiang Middle School, Qingyuan, China

Read more here:: Playground: Photographer documents school playgrounds across the world