3rd Birthday Reminiscing

At CreativeMornings/EDI, our January event was special one indeed… we turned 3! That’s 37 early starts and speakers, over 2960 coffees served, 5 panic stricken moments of missed alarms, 52 stolen sharpies and a growing family of over 1300 members!

Photography by Ellie Morag

And what a grand affair it was. We had four incredible speakers, two musical acts, and delicious bagels, cake, gin, and beer - all enjoyed within the stunning Assembly Roxy, in the heart of our fair city.

All the fun was coordinated under the CreativeMornings global theme of the month, #CMAnxiety, which felt pretty appropriate as each of our team members were called to speak on stage, at least once. With over 160 #CMEdi community members watching, this was totally new for some of us  - Anxiety indeed.  

Our first speaker, introduced by team photographer Ellie, was Marco Bevilacqua a.k.a. Want Some Studios, an award winning illustrator with over seven years experience working with international clients in editorial, advertising and television. From the start of his talk, Marco got real with us all. Anorexia and anxiety had creeped it’s way into his life at the age of 22, turning him into a shell of his former self, which he could barely recognise. Standing before us on that stage was an individual who had battled an irrational internal voice, using his art to find true expression and, ultimately, reforge himself to be stronger than ever before.

“Art and expression as a child have no inhibitions, there’s no right or wrong. Then, adulthood strikes. We lose connection to art, the analysis of self… that emotional outsourcing from head to page… “

Photography by Ellie Morag

“Art provides metaphors for us to visualise emotions. Re-engage with art.. Am I expecting everyone to go out and yell ‘it’s ok, go be crazy’? To experience miraculous re-connections with long lost fathers? No. But, you can accept yourself.”

To see all of Marco’s fantastic work, head on over to his website, and keep up his creative initiative PissedModernism which “is about making Art and Politics accessible to everyone.”

Introduced by our team’s operations wrangler, Alex, the next speaker was Niamh KcKeown, a talented young writer and director. Since graduating from Edinburgh Napier University last year, her graduate film ‘Good Girls’ has screened at ESFF, Underwire and, most recently, Flickerfest in Australia. Niamh’s latest short ‘Farmland’ was shortlisted for BAFTA Rocliffe new writing competition and is due to be shot and produced later this year.

Despite her inspiring accomplishments, Niamh has worked through some serious life anxiety and self-doubt, “I’m kinda like a loser… but also a film-maker, a porter, an artist… faking it until I make it, at least.” Reflecting on her own anxieties, she gave us a glimpse into the reality of creative process, with the distinct cocktail of chaos, passion, fear, doubt, and loneliness it can bring. All the while, a question looming in the background, “… but when do you actually ‘make it’?” Attempting to answer this question alone, the internal anxious artist responds with only more questions and worry “Maybe I should wait 10 years until I’m ‘good enough’? What even is good enough? Do I have what it takes? DOES MY MUM EVEN LOVE ME?”

Niamh’s fantastic character and comedic timing had us all laughing, in that special way that says “We know exactly what you’re talking about.” From this reflection, however, came some wise words for us all as we face the future, chasing our creative dreams and aspirations.

“The worst mistake I make is trying to ‘lone-wolf’ it - not letting people help me until it’s too late. I need feedback, even if I don’t want it! ”

Photography by Ellie Morag

So, go out there and remember you are never alone in dealing with your anxiety, or finding that next vital dose of inspiration! The creative community awaits!

Follow all of the amazing things Niamh is getting up to on twitter @KeownMcNiamh and instagram @KeownMcNiamh

The third speaker of the night, introduced by our operations wrangler Chloe, was Matilda Mayne. Starting off a little differently, she gave us all some instructions in subtle, dulcet tones…

“Place your hand behind your head, and pull your head down. Relax the muscle around your shoulders… your arms… and allow the muscles in your face to slowly open up. Breathe. Take yourself just to the edge of discomfort.

Bring your mind back to your breathe… back inside your body. Open your eyes.”

Photography by Ellie Morag

As a performance psychology coach who loves to work with pioneers, inventors and boundary-pushers, Matilda’s work and life have given her an appreciation for anxiety - “Anxiety is an urge to get back to comfort, which means we’re missing out, a lot.”  Aided by the practice of Yin-yoga, Matilda has found ways to help individuals face anxiety and stress, with purpose, not only getting to the root of causes, but helping them tap into “a learning ground, and strategies to deal with chaos and adversity.”

“Next time you experience anxiety or fear on some level, remember to stop and tune into yourself.”

Follow Matilda on instagram @Mayne_Psychology - and get in touch! She’d love to hear from you 📬

CreativeMornings/EDI’s Speaker Coach extraordinaire, Briana, introduced our final speaker of the night, Niall Dolan, the CEO of the John Byrne Award. As the leader of an organisation which aims to provide a platform for young creatives to express themselves, and their values, Niall extended this goal to our event, inviting the talented young sculpture, and former John Byrne Award winner, Robert McCormick to share the stage.

Photography by Ellie Morag

In a time of great social and political anxiety, the voices of young people often go without full recognition or respect - despite their role as ultimate inheritors of all we create. As Niall explains, the John Byrne Award seeks to raise these young voices, allowing them to communicate what they truly value, through artistic mediums. The results are truly inspiring, expressing thoughtfulness, concern, and perspectives which not only warrant greater inclusion of young people in public conversations, but also more compassionate investment in dialogue, generally.

To find out more about the John Byrne Award, head on over to their website, and follow them on instagram at @TheJohnByrneAward

Finishing our #CMAnxiety set for the night, team videographer Tao welcomed Wendy McAuslan to the stage. With her magical voice and acoustic guitar skills, this Edinburgh based singer and songwriter overcame performance anxiety to play us out.. And boy were we glad she did. Wendy left us in collective awe, sending us off in a distinctly un-anxious state of inspiration. 

Photography by Ellie Morag

To keep up with Wendy and listen in on her lovely tunes, you can follow her on soundcloud, facebook, and instagram @WMcAuslanMusic

Throughout our 3rd birthday bash, it was a joy to look around and see a full house, surrounded by memories of the last 3 years of hard work, inspiration, and community. Our host and founder Alex took the stage to chart the key moments that have shaped the chapter, including a weather bomb, a brexit wake, a team retreat, and a killer event that put Edinburgh on The CreativeMornings global map. What a journey it’s been!

So here’s to another fantastic year of CreativeMorningS/EDI events, and all that we stand for as a (growing) creative community:

- Build & grow place for connection. Breaking down silos between disciplines is number one on our local chapter’s agenda. We’re bent on growing a safe and welcoming place for our community and providing a hot bed for ideas. Let’s show the world that Edinburgh is a creative city, 12 months a year.

- A program that inspires by example. We strive for a diverse program of speakers; upholding a gender balanced lineup but also having a healthy representation of different ethnic background and beliefs. Our speakers are real people, doing real work, telling real stories. They make inspiration tangible - when you see someone up there that looks like you, or says out loud what you’re thinking it gives us strength  to someday make the leap for ourselves..

- Relish the ambiguity of the word “creative”. No matter what life you lead or what your passion may be, creativity is involved in it all. Whether your art can be found on an easel, a workbench, a garden, a page of code, a way of thinking, or a nurtured organisational culture… you are creative, and great inspiration can be found in the many facets of it all.  

We were so humbled to have you all here with us on our birthday, at our biggest event yet! The best part? We have so much more yet to come!

Shout out to all who joined us, with special thanks to our sponsors, Eastern Exhibit, FreeAgent, Amiqus, Cello Signal, Orbit, Designit, The Edinburgh Beer Factory, Pickering’s Gin, The Homespun Kitchen, and Bross Bagels - all of you made this wonderful night possible 💙