Hannah Aitken - BA Photography

Hannah Aitken - Gray's BA (Hons) Photography graduate
Hannah draws on her childhood experience going to church and creates a stunning photography collection called ‘Closure’ featuring architectural images of Church of Scotland churches closing down and portraits of members of the congregations strongly affected by the closures.

The photographic documentation focuses on the closure of five Church of Scotland churches that are being closed down in Aberdeen due to declining membership and a shortage of ministers. The Churches included in the project include Ruthrieston West, South St Nicholas, St Mark’s, Kingswells, and Bucksburn Stoneywood. 

The project contains a powerful collection of architectural images of the church buildings that are being put up on the market and left to stand empty along with portraits of some members of the church congregations being strongly affected by the closures. The project explores the heartbreak they feel as they navigate the loss of their church and the impact that the closures are having on the surrounding community. 

Hannah explains more: “I was inspired to carry out this project as my Father is a minister for the Church of Scotland. As a child, I grew up going to church, and through this, grew an understanding of the importance it can have in an individual's life and surrounding community. Becoming aware of the closures inspired me to document them at this important time in their history. One photographer that has inspired me is Larry Towell because of the level of emotion he captures in his subject matter.  

“I have named the project “Closure” as I hope that it will help members of these congregations and others like it to feel a sense of closure. I hope that it will help them to reflect on the role that the church has played in their lives and have hope for the future of the Church.”


Looking back on her experience at Gray’s, Hannah says it has given her confidence in her abilities as a photographer which she would not have had without the support and encouragement from her peers and lecturers. I have grown so much in my creative practice and learned invaluable skills which will support me in my future endeavours. 

“The thing that stands out to me most when I think of my time at RGU is my peers in BA Photography. When I started my studies, I did not expect to have learned and gained so much inspiration from them. However, through sharing our thought processes and experiencing their passion for their subjects, my creative passion for photography has grown.”

Hannah has now made a book for the project and hopes to inspire others to find out more about the closure of churches across Scotland. To find out more about the book, please contact: hannahaitken23@gmail.com

Gallery image shows Moira Henderson, a member of Bucksburn Stoneywood church which closed at the end of last year and a Directory image.

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