One of Europe’s biggest recycling plants of cars, fridges and scrap metal is situated in Newport. Sims UK operates a vast network of recycling centres and scrap processing facilities, which form part of the worldwide Sims Group. The company maintains a system that turns unwanted consumer items and industrial scrap into raw materials for manufacturing operations around the world.
The site is an incredibly dangerous environment to work in. The heavy machinery that occupies the site is enormous. The mechanism that processes the vehicles and various other scrap is so powerful that it actually makes the ground shake beneath your feet. Heavy plant machinery is manoeuvring in all directions. Eighteen wheel trucks are constantly offloading their consignments and the largest crane in Newport hovers above.
However, in the midst of this chaos, under the enormous main crane, there is a small section of the site that showed a degree of beauty and stillness. Large hills of iron filings from local steel fabricators had been piled up on the quayside. They had amazing attractiveness with varying colours of red, orange, silver and black along with all sorts of shades within each colour, all due to different stages of oxidation.
The idea was to capture this incredibly serene landscape, which seemed to mirror some of the surrounding Welsh hills and valleys. South Wales’ industrial past gave rise to an array of man made hills of iron ore waste and coal slag heaps, some of which are mountainous. In some cases one could almost imagine an alien landscape, which was almost volcanic in character, with rising plumes of steam coming from within the hot metal.