Crowd of 150 gather at Preston Bus Station "to howl and mourn for those we've lost" during pandemic

A crowd of 150 people gathered at Preston Bus Station on Sunday (May 30) whilst a Lancashire artist filmed the group howling together in the name of art.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 4:27 pm

The strange sight and sounds of members of the public howling at the top of their lungs at the city bus station was captured on film by local artist Jamie Holman.

Volunteers of all ages turned up in response to Jamie's call-out on social media last week, when he offered people £10 each to take part in the project commissioned by Lancashire Encounter - the biennial art festival due to take place in September.

Within 30 minutes of his first tweet, more than 100 people of all ages had signed up to howl from the rooftop of the Preston landmark.

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Between 2pm and 4pm, the eerie sounds coming from the bus station multi-storey car park were recorded by Jamie, who will exhibit the surreal footage on a large external screen somewhere in the city during the Encounter weekend.

Speaking from the bus station after filming, Jamie explained his original idea for the performance and why Preston Bus Station was chosen to stage the event.

He said: "I've been commissioned for Lancashire Encounter Festival to deliver a participatory performance piece that's going to be a film called 'Howl'.

"We've been working on location at Preston's iconic Brutalist bus station and we chose this place because it's a real iconic building in the North West of England and it's a perfect place to talk about wildness and brutality.

The strange sight and sounds of members of the public howling at the top of their lungs at the city bus station was captured on film by local artist Jamie Holman on Sunday (May 30). Pic: Jamie Holman/Aaron Dunleavy

"Sometimes it's really difficult to explain to people what you do, but this piece really resonates with a lot of people.

"I'm responding to three things with this work. The first is that there is an inscription on the side of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston which says, "On Earth there is nothing great but man", a quote by Sir William Hamilton Forbes.

"Lancashire Encounter asked me to respond to that. I'm also interested in the fact that the last wolf in England died in Lancashire. So I put those two things together, which really chimed with the times we're in now.

"The lack of wildness, our idea that we had overcome nature, that science, art and industry were dominant. And then this past year changed all of that.

Jamie Holman described the performance involving 150 volunteers as a "cathartic experience" as people came together "to become a pack again". Pic: Jamie Holman/Aaron Dunleavy

"The third thing I'm responding to is the situation we've been in - kids haven't been able to go out for a year, people haven't seen their parents, we haven't been able to touch each other, we haven't been able to gather.

"A lot of the work I make follows this idea that when we gather we become powerful. So as soon as we've been able to, I've wanted to use a simple idea to bring people back together and howl for the last wolf in England and howl and mourn for the people we've lost during the past year and the time that we've lost."

Preston City Council leader, Coun Matthew Brown, was among those to praise the "excellent piece of art and collective expression" in Preston.

Jamie added: "I think people understood the idea of it immediately - we come together and howl. And that's what people have done. We actually ended up with 150 people and it's a really cathartic experience to become a pack again."

Between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday (May 30), the eerie howling soundscoming from the bus station multi-storeycar park were recorded by artist Jamie Holman, who will exhibit the surrealfootage on a large external screen in Preston during the Encounter weekend in September. Pic: Jamie Holman/Steve Baldwin

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Volunteers of all ages turned up to take part in the 'howling' projectwhich has been commissioned by Lancashire Encounter - the biennial art festival due to take place in September. Pic: Jamie Holman, Lisa O'Loughlin
A crowd of 150 people gathered at Preston Bus Station on Sunday (May 30) whilst a Lancashire artist filmed the group howling together for an art project. Pic: Jamie Holman/Steve Baldwin