#CMHonesty with CreativeMornings/EDI

Wednesday 24th October 2018 saw the full moon, complete with golden autumnal halo, fill the night sky. In celebration of this lunar event, photographer Jannica Honey took over the CreativeMornings/EDI Instagram account; sharing images and behind the scenes stories from her many stunning projects. As our speaker for the month, her storytelling takeover extended the event into a three-day experience. A core feature being Jannica’s commitment to creative vulnerability, and authenticity… perfectly in tune with October’s global theme of ‘Honesty’.  

With the event’s rhythm in motion, opening the doors to welcome you all on that final Friday morning of the month brought it all full circle. From the virtual stage, to face-to-face greetings, hugs, and reunions. 

In special celebration of our new CMEdi-Bross partnership, Larah Bross of Bross Bagels kicked it all off with an epic array of Party Bagels! Six giant bagels, with various delicious fillings, laid out and ready for all to enjoy. As Larah says, “They’re big enough to feed 10-12 people… or one nasty hangover!” - the perfect breakfast spread to fuel the creative day ahead.

Bross Party Bagel - Photography by Ellie Morag

Bross Bagels - Photography by Ellie Morag

Bellies full, and caffeine levels rising, we took our seats with excitement. Ready and eager to hear Jannica Honey’s inspiring story of photography, humanity, and womanhood.

“Honesty opens doors. Honesty is not just to do with being bold or frank. It’s about giving something up of yourself.Honesty is not about being rude. It’s about being vulnerable.” - Jannica Honey

Swedish-born, adopted Scot, of boundary-busting, mixed-heritage parents, Jannica’s career has carried on a tradition of crossing every kind of border. Further influenced by her academic background in anthropology and criminology, Jannica’s photographic craft has seen her delve into the nuanced, and typically unseen realms of culture and society. Every step taken with empathy, and heart. 

Jannica Honey on stage - Photography by Ellie Morag

Before introducing us to the intimate - sometimes ‘taboo’ - contexts this journey has lead her to explore, Jannica makes clear the importance of honest intent in each project.

“If you lose honesty, you lose touch with your photography. With your subjects… I went in honest. I think having a hidden agenda should be illegal.”

Starting with her project going behind-the-scenes of an Edinburgh strip-club, dehumanising notions are immediately forced aside. The first image, looking through the stocking-and-garter-clad legs of a dancer, her tampon string clearly visible. Jannica tells the story of how this image came about. How the dancer, Mina, had previously been fired from a club for having a tampon string showing, and became anxious on the day of shooting as her period had, naturally, started once more that very morning. 

‘Mina’s String’ with Jannica Honey - Photography by Ellie Morag

With a bond formed, only possible due to Jannica’s willingness to be as authentic and vulnerable as these women, they saw capturing the moment as positive action. Saying “f**k it” to the natural events of a woman’s life being made taboo. 

To this day, the bond between Jannica and Mina - forged in trust and mutual empowerment - is still strong.

“Vulnerability is like a bucket of ice-cold water over the head. It shocks us, gets us to open up, and start connecting.”

While very different in terms of their grounds for connection, this honest approach remains constant in Jannica’s next project. Into the highly secretive world of the Orange Order. 

“I had to be vulnerable and honest with them. Granted a seat at their top officials’ meetings, I earned allowance to take photographs at the front of their march.

I don’t agree with their beliefs, but their vulnerability humanised them in my eyes… with conflict on significant points, but empathy.”

Behind the Orange March with Jannica Honey - Photography by Ellie Morag

Contrasting once again with previous projects, Jannica’s venture onto the reservation lands of the Mohawk Nation would not have been possible without that same submission to vulnerability. By opening up about her own story in conversations, she was gifted tours of the land by an incredible mix tribal members - including the chief peacemaker (reservation police officer), and the local cocaine dealer. 

Welcome to the Mohawk Nation with Jannica Honey - Photography by Ellie Morag

The projector then switches to a stunning image of a woman and her horse - both in action, strong, and covered only by natural light. With that, we are introduced to Jannica’s most recent and ambitious project, When the Blackbird Sings.

Initiated by feelings of disempowerment resulting from both personal heartache, and the 2016 election of “a guy caught shouting grab ‘em by the p**sy”, she conceived of the project as a way to take power back. Power in the form of consensual vulnerability, honesty, and humanisation.

The series portrays the multiple aspects of the female cycle through photographs of women and nature. Constraints being the utilisation of twilight as the only light source, and only shooting on the new and full moon over 12 months. Thus, the shooting schedule was formed by moon cycles - an intrinsic feminine rhythm - channelled the earth’s natural rhythms into her work. The result being a continuing reconnection to womanhood and femininity.

Photography by Ellie Morag

Behind these photos is hours, if not days, of honest conversations with no topic out of bounds. Photographer and subject are co-creators of both dialogue and image.

“We were having full, honest conversations… experiences of abuse, miscarriage, IVF, menstruation, menopause… we shared it all.” 

Jannica makes clear, however, that with this degree of honesty and vulnerability, time and space is needed away from projects.

“You need to be honest, but hold a space for yourself - which ultimately facilitates your ability to hold a space for others to be safe in vulnerability. Throughout ‘When the Blackbird Sings’, I had to do a lot of self-caring work in my own time. Including in the run-up to the exhibition. For others, as well as for me.” 

With massive applause, and a sense of awe throughout the audience, Jannica ended her talk on a high. A welcome speaker on the CMEdi stage, and in the community. Discover more of her work via her website at www.jannicahoney.com, and join her fantastic conversations on Twitter @JannicaHoney, and Instagram @JannicaHoney

Jannica Honey - Photography by Ellie Morag

Speaking of social media, the CMEdi volunteer organisers want to take this opportunity to thank our own Twitter-pro team-member, Cilla, for all of her fantastic contributions. October’s event was officially her last in the role, as she heads off to new adventures, and successes!

“It was such a pleasure collaborating with you on CMEDI over the past 18 months. I hope you find joy and happiness in everything you do, and I’m excited to see your side projects bloom! As you said, quite rightly, on Friday: it’s not really goodbye. We’re looking forward to seeing your smiling face at future CMEDI events! All the best x” - Ellie, CMEdi Photographer & Instagram Queen

“I’ll miss your laugh and amazing social media skills - good luck in everything that comes after, and looking forward to seeing you at the next events! Xx” - Chloe, CMEdi Operations Champion

“On the work side, Cilla has been a massive help in shaping and writing grants, and her live-tweeting was on point. On a personal level, I loved dressing up for an 80s night with her - and her ambition to get CreativeMornings/EDI into the Usher Hall will live on!” - Alex, CMEdi founder & host

The month of #CMHonesty may soon be over, but hopefully it’s inspired you to continue a truthful trend throughout your days. In the words of the great Will Rogers,  “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”

 We can’t wait to see you all at our next event, all on the global theme of ‘Restart’. May you have the good fortune to explore the global community that awaits. It’s only ever just a click away… At CreativeMornings 🗺️