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Encounters: Artists And Freemasonry Over 300 Years Exhibition

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
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An Inside Look at an Exclusive World
Encounters: Artists And Freemasonry Over 300 Years, freemasons


Just what goes on in a Freemasonry lodge? As a secret society - or as members like to euphemistically call it, an 'esoteric' society - it is an exclusive club shrouded in mystery and ritual. At least that is how it began. The Freemasons ere originally a craft guild for stonemasons when it was set up in the Medieval period, and it was not until 1646 when the first non stonemason was allowed to join. It has often been condemned for being a very exclusive organisation, and has been criticised by many religious and political groups.

Today, however, Freemasonry is not as hush hush as you might think. While the Anglo-American group are still pretty rigid, the Continental Freemasonry is a lot more inclusive, allowing women and atheists to join, as well as welcoming political discussion.

Proof that the Freemasons are not as secretive as they used to be stands right in the centre of London, where they have their very own library and museum free for public viewing. Close to Covent Garden, you can explore the library archives and uncover Freemasonry's entire history through books, music, and manuscripts. You can also admire a range of pottery, porcelain, glassware, and furniture in the museum.

I was rather surprised to see this side of the Freemasons, but thinking about it more carefully, it makes perfect sense. The Freemasons did after all originate from craftsmen, so no wonder sculpture and other decorative displays are at the forefront of their establishment.

Four Times of the Day, William Hogarth
'Four Times of the Day' by William Hogarth


In the museums latest exhibition, Encounters: Artists and Freemasonry , the artistic side of the Freemasons is examined more closely. Running until the 20th September, it explores how artists have responded to freemasonry over the last three hundred years. Freemasons featured in the exhibit include William Hogarth, an eighteenth century painter, who depicts drunken Freemasons staggering home in Night, a painting in part of his quartet series, Four Times of The Day. There will also be photography by Alvin Langdon Coburn modern European artists.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: Until 25th Sept
Phone: 44 (0)20 7395 9257
Where: Freemason's Hall
Cost: Free
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