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Freemasons’ Hall  /

 

One of the most historic Freemason lodges in Scotland is located at 85 Crown Street. The Lodge’s seal dates from 1762 and has the motto “Conceal the secret entrusted to you even when influenced by wine or anger”. Aberdeen has an established tradition of masonry and there are currently twelve lodges in the city, with over two thousand members.

 

Formerly known as The Masonic Temple, the building is constructed from Kemnay Granite and was designed by local architect Harbourne MacLennan in 1908. There is a majestic entrance hall with black and white mosaic floor-tiling containing astrological symbols. The grand stairway is carved from Austrian Oak and there are three main areas; a Chapter Hall, Provincial Hall, and Craft Hall. Each has a large squared pavement tiling rug, reflecting the inner sanctum of King Solomon’s temple. 

 

Beneath the Chapter Hall is one of the most curious rooms in the city. The vault is used for secret ceremonies and rituals, and has a domed ceiling. It is circular in shape and decorated with marble and hand-painted symbols. The leaders of Israel’s twelve tribes adorn the walls, which are angled towards the roof. In this space candidates are inducted into the freemasons, with some rituals lasting up to twenty minutes. 

 

In the Craft Hall, bows are decorated with bare-breasted angels. Candidates looking up from their seats can stare straight into their eyes, which are lowered for modesty. A stain from a caretaker’s tin of spilled shellac is the only mark on the otherwise pristine ceiling, painted harbour blue. 

 

 

Marble plinths are placed in the centre of the halls, and the Grand Masters’ chair overlooks proceedings. On their desks rest a series of granite ashlers, in rough and smooth, representing the mind of man, and its potential. Carved columns in ionic and Corinthian styles lay beside them. The halls are decorated with symbols and signs, each one metaphorical or representative of the heritage of the tradesmen who formed the first members. 

 

This project was a collaboration with writer Adelle Stripe who explored the city with me and created the stories and histories that sit alongside the thirteen main images from the exhibition. Secret Cities Aberdeen was part of the SPECTRA Festival of Light 2017 in Aberdeen and commissioned by Curated Place. 


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