When The Blackbird Sings by Jannica Honey

by BIPP / 18th March 2018 / Categories: Spotlights

When The Blackbird Sings
Jannica Honey

Arusha Gallery

13A Dundas St, Edinburgh EH3 6QG
Open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm.
Open Sunday by appointment.
For more information and images: 0131 557 1412 and info@arushagallery.com


Jannica Honey recorded a video artist statement about When the Blackbird Sings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc7ooJsSTuE



When The Blackbird Sings a photographic exhibition by Jannica Honey is a complex project. It is far removed from her commercial work as an editorial photographer. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, the LA Times, Aftenposten, Svenska Dagbladet, The Scotsman, Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Tank, and Gaffa, while in recent years she has been one of the most prolific contributors to The List, shooting over 20 front covers, dozens of features and several editions of the Eating & Drinking Guide.

The project was born out of the frustration of failed IVF treatments and the political turmoil which ensued during 2016. The exhibition comprises of many nudes, all women, photographed during every new or full moon at twilight. This is known as the blue hour and the time when you will hear the blackbird sing. Juxtaposed between the photographs of nudes are images of flowers in a flowing river. Each flower was photographed throughout the year to show the change in nature. I went down to the Arusha Gallery to find out more and met up with an old friend and photographer Jannica Honey.


How did ‘When The Blackbird Sings’ project come about?

Talking about When the blackbird sings for me it’s like everything in life, it did not start from A to B. One small part was me aging and trying to create life. I lost my grandmother while my partner and I were trying to create a new generation. In 2016 it was really hard for most us. There was also a new political climate, elections and Brexit, there was nothing good back then, people started to feel really disempowered, especially the women around me.

I felt I needed to go out in to nature and create something with the women around me. It was all about women that year because that’s how it surfaced, with me being a woman being very observant about my ovulations (trying for a baby), sisterhood, my grandmother dying, so I started looking in to the female aspect of life. Then of course the political climate, I felt that everyone was overdosing on testosterone like ‘we must get our country back and America First’. I’ve never paid taxes in Sweden, I’ve been in Scotland all the time but people would ask me if I would need a permanent residence licence. I was like, “but I own a flat, do I need a permit”? It was like the outside world, the political climate and my own internal world of ageing started me thinking. On top of that I felt I needed to empower myself but we are all connected, so if I empowered women around me that might also have an effect on me.


So, this is like a cathartic journey for you?

Absolutely, but it’s not just my journey. This exhibition is just one of the branches of the tree that grew. I photographed over 12 months every new and full moon, so the time frame was very restrictive. The work itself is all about femininity but it’s quite loose.

“Strength and vulnerability served as my guidance.
I was totally naked, scared and relieved”.


There is obviously a trust between you and your subjects, did you know all your subjects?

No, not at all. Some are friends, some are friends of friends I met through Facebook and some got in touch with me on-line and of course my mum was involved. These are just people who were attracted to the project, not models. The group were represented by women from Scotland, Greece, Hungary and Pakistan, they are all middle aged because we don’t see women from this group represented like this anymore.

My mother said;

“Thank you for making me a goddess”
I said;
“I am not making you a goddess, I am reminding you”.


Press Release.

Swedish photographer Jannica Honey to stage inaugural solo exhibition at Edinburgh’s Arusha Gallery

Arusha Gallery is delighted to announce the Edinburgh-based photographer Jannica Honey will be the subject of its spring exhibition, opening in March 2018. The award-winning artist will present a new series of nearly 30 works (digital giclee prints), When the Blackbird Sings (2016), for its first ever showing, which focuses on the female body and its links with nature.

The compelling works depict naked women of all ages as well as poetic shots of flowers in water. The subjects are family, friends and acquaintances of the artist, always posing outdoors and at twilight. Honey shot the fascinating images over the course of a whole year, exclusively on every full and new moon, starting at the October 2016 Supermoon. When the Blackbird Sings is named after the bird which signals twilight with a song; while shooting the series Honey was stricken by the song’s memento mori-undertones.

The resulting photographs unveil lyrical still lives alongside delicate moments of tenderness and unashamed femininity, and celebrate the beauty of the female form at any age. While some of the sitters are smiling directly at the camera, others are looking away from it, almost blending into the surrounding setting of moss and trees. The colourful flowers, including daisies and passion flowers, are captured resting on the surface of Edinburgh’s Water of Leith. Honey shot across Scotland and Sweden to illustrate her attachment to both her adoptive and home countries.

Shooting at twilight allowed Honey to challenge the limitations of her chosen medium, in part for the time constraint (twilight only lasts 15-20 minutes), but also for the particular blue hue the light takes on during that time. While most photographers consider it unflattering for their subject matter and shy away from it, Honey explores its potential to offer a glimpse of an ephemeral moment in the 24 hour-cycle. When the Blackbird Sings also delves into the significance and symbolism of dusk and explores the ethereal quality of twilight; an in-between moment which doesn’t belong to either day or night, and which Honey sees as an emotional, reflective pause in her day.

When the Blackbird Sings started when Honey felt compelled to reaffirm her own ‘feminine voice’ in the face of personal challenges and male-dominated political events – in particular the recent death of her grandmother and the US elections. By basing her shooting schedule on moon cycles – an intrinsic feminine rhythm – Honey channelled the earth’s natural rhythms into her work, and explored her own reconnection to womanhood and femininity.

Honey’s work is often concerned with the female body and the place of women in society. In 2011, she spent two months photographing Edinburgh strippers, providing a candid and sensitive insight into a world rarely captured.

Jannica Honey was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1974. She moved to Edinburgh to study photography and digital imaging at Telford College, after completing a BA in Humanities (anthropology and criminology) at Stockholm University in 1998. She won the prestigious Fuji Award for her fashion photography in 2003. She lives and works in Edinburgh.

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