Hated by some, loved by others. The bus station in Preston is a building that splits opinion amongst the people, and one photographer wanted to capture it in all its glory before it’s potentially consigned to history.Advertisement
Michael Mackenzie, born and bred in Preston, heard about the bus station’s possible demise and thought he’d put his skills as an urban landscape photographer to good use.
He explains why he thought the bus station would make a good subject for a shoot:
The station was a regular meeting point for me in my youth. I’d often get bus’ to my girlfriend’s place, meet friends there and it holds a lot of memories for me and for other people. I prefer to take photos of places I have a connection with.
Mackenzie scouted the building and decided he wanted to capture the bus station with hardly anyone there, so instead of the bustling thoroughfare and the queue for the number 2 to Longton and beyond he wanted to get a spaced out feel to the building.
I scouted the placed first with a little digital camera to try and find some shots. Decided to do some tests at night and found the place to be really atmospheric and it started to take on a really space like feel. I wanted to pictures to have that feeling that it had been abandoned, that no one was there anymore and get that feeling a bit like Kubrick’s Space Odyssey.
I scheduled me trips for between 10 PM and 1 AM, when there was hardly anyone around and it was quiet. I went every week for a couple of months, capturing different levels and parts of the building.
I deliberately made the work devoid of people and I think that helps to give it a cold, barren and almost alien feel to the place.
The photo shoot started in 2006 and it has taken Mackenzie nearly three years to get enough shoots for the exhibition.
It’s bizarre how many photos I’ve actually taken but there’s only 17 in the exhibition. What you don’t realise is that because of the settings I had on the camera it would take anywhere between 6-10 minutes to take just one photo – and even then it might be rubbish.
It was cold work overall, especially the winter shoots. The rooftops were the hardest shots, had to wait until it was really dark.
With the bus station’s days apparently being numbered, how does Mackenzie feel about the building being torn down after he spent such a long time getting intimate with it.
We should keep it. There’s not many buildings like it and at night when it’s lit it is gorgeous. Let’s not just knock it down, why couldn’t it be turned into retail units with studios above for artists? Preston needs regeneration, but leave the bus station up. It’s iconic.
Mackenzie’s exhibition ‘The Last Bus Station’ is up in the Harris Museum, on the stairs as you go up to the first floor. You can also view the gallery online via his website.