“A FEW streams have become this roaring river,” says photographer Jannica Honey of When the Blackbird Sings, her poetic portraits of women and wild flowers that form the spring exhibition at Arusha Art Gallery in Edinburgh, where she’s based.

Intimate and powerful, the images were shot over the cycle of a year, exclusively during the minutes of twilight on every full and new moon.

They are intended, the Swedish-born artist says, to be an exploration of femininity, fertility and ageing; a reflective response to an era of hyper-aggressive politics and the “24 hours of stress that has somehow become our lives.”

The first images were taken on the night of October 16 2016, when the first of the year’s three consecutive supermoons illuminated the skies. It was a time when Honey, who moved to Scotland in the late 1990s after studying criminology and anthropology at Stockholm University, was feeling flat and disempowered. Earlier that year her family’s matriarch, her grandmother, had passed away, signalling a generational shift made more visceral and challenging by her own experiences with IVF.

“It heightened my awareness of my own fertility cycles, of ageing, and of the journey of trying to create life, of trying to give birth to something,” she says. “It’s private, yes, but so is bleeding, miscarriage, abortion, and these things are happening to people around us all the time, so why shouldn’t we talk about them too?”

Women in October 2016 were talking a lot about Donald Trump. That previous week a US newspaper had released a video of the then presidential candidate telling TV host Billy Bush of women, that “when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything ... grab them by the pussy.” It didn’t stop millions voting for him.

“Many women around me were feeling like me; really f****d off, really disempowered” she says. “The harshness of Brexit, the election of Trump, which is so, so detrimental for women and girls. It’s like the world is pumped up on this extreme testosterone, this male dominance, and that became a very important angle of what I was trying to do.”

On the night of the October 2016 supermoon, she “played around” near the Water of Leith, taking images of her friend. It was then that Honey’s artistic response to such personal and political challenges began to gain clarity.

“I knew I wanted to surround myself with women to strengthen myself” she says. “And I knew the only way I could find strength in myself was to help strengthen women around me.”

As well as being the former in-house photographer for The List and a prolific music photographer, Honey has exhibited extensively over the past 18 years. Whether it’s portraits of Mohawk chiefs, ageing drug addicts, women who make their living in lap-dancing bars or members of the Orange Order parading through Glasgow, a constant throughout her work is a compassionate sense of humanity.

“I have worked as a portrait photographer for years,” she says.”My aim is to really see people, like really see them. When we feel seen we usually feel much better about ourselves.

The exhibition is split between nocturnal images of passion flowers and daisies, a reference to the Swedish tradition of putting wild flowers under your pillow to evoke dreams of your sweetheart, and portraits of family, friends and acquaintances taken in natural surroundings. No models were recruited; all her sitters came to her, inspired by Honey’s project. Power resided in them, she says, not herself as photographer. Though the experience was empowering, some decided they didn’t want the images shown publicly. That could be frustrating, she concedes, but self-determination and autonomy are key themes of When the Blackbird Sings, which, she says, “is not just another exhibition of nice pictures”.

Rather Honey intends the project to be a platform for a wider discussion on themes often devalued by dominant culture: of femininity, female agency, ageing, the natural world and traditions of mysticism.

A shift, of course, is already happening. When Honey shot the final images for When The Blackbird Sings in October 2017, hundreds of thousands of women and girls around the world began to share their hitherto hidden experiences of sexual violence and harassment. As discussions continue on how the energy unleashed by #MeToo best serves the global women’s movement in 2018, Herald journalist Vicky Allan and National columnist Vonny Leclerc will join Honey for an afternoon discussion on March 3, rounded off with live music from acclaimed young singer-songwriter Emme Woods.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, the photographer and body image advocate Danni Gordon will host an evening intended to “celebrate the reality of the feminine through the words and tales of some of Scotland’s most talented professional and amateur storytellers”. Submissions remain open until noon on February 17, and there’s details at bit.ly/BlackbirdWriting.

And the title of the exhibition?

“I would go for a lot of walks at twilight and it was like time would open up, it would almost stop,” she says.

“Great artists used to call it the ‘blue hour’ and would paint in its light, but it’s really a blue twenty minutes. I would shoot the work only then.

“Time constraints like that make you more present, more respectful of the time you have with the woman. Always I would notice the blackbird calling, like it was a messenger of that moment. And the light really is very flat and very blue. It’s also very otherworldly. If you believe in other words, that time really is the gateway, for sure.”

More information and tickets for Jannica Honey’s talk and the discussion led by Vicky Allan, at noon on March 3, is at bit.ly/BlackbirdTalk

For the evening celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8 from 6.30pm, see bit.ly/BlackbirdWomensDay

March 1 to March 25 (Sundays by appointment only), Arusha Art Gallery, Edinburgh, 10am to 5pm, free. www.arushagallery.com jannicahoney.com