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Michael MacKenzie: Last Bus Series
The Last Bus Series has been an ongoing project for the artist since 2006
The Last Bus Series has been an ongoing project for the artist since 2006

The new exhibition at the Harris Museum in Preston features iconic images of Preston's bus station.

The idea was originally conceived by photographer Michael MacKenzie in response to the planned demolition of the building as part of the city's Tithebarn regeneration project.

The Last Bus Series has been an ongoing project for the artist since 2006.

The building, along with the controversy over its future is well known.

MacKenzie hopes to create an archive of images depicting the final years of the iconic Preston building before it is erased from the landscape forever.

There has been much debate over the significance of the building. Jonathan Glancey, the Guardian's architecture and design correspondent called it 'A baroque cathedral for buses' and said "It is cinematic, sculptural, heroic - and one of the most dramatic public buildings from the 1960s."

Space and abandonment

Michael MacKenzie describes the building: "The station was built in 1968/69, the largest in Europe and is an excellent example of 1960s Brutalism architecture; it was a style that spawned from the Modernist… It has become an iconic landmark building of Preston, of which there are few."

By taking pictures of the building at different times of the day it soon became clear to MacKenzie that the night-time images had the most impact, and this became the main focus of the series of images.

He explains: "These early test shots developed a 'space' like quality and I was influenced by Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001 A Space Odyssey, other sci-fi imagery and in particular images from early moon landings by NASA.

"From this I came up with the concept of the bus station being almost like an abandoned spacecraft sitting in a dark lunar sky waiting to be rediscovered. Removing any signs of life from the station helped to enhance this idea of space and abandonment.

"I hope to bring a new visual perspective to the way the viewer interprets this landmark building."

MacKenzie already has links with Preston through the photographic projects and workshops he runs with CSV Training & Enterprise North. This includes the successful completion of the 'Youth Take On Preston Project' last year which looked at Preston's heritage through photography.

The exhibition is open until 5 December 2009.

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