I have a certain fondness for Big Industry. Actually, let me rephrase that slightly – I fucking love Big Industry!
One of the reasons I find myself here, writing this today, is a determination to capture artistic, beautiful scenes where one would not traditionally expect to find them. I enjoy the counter-intuitive feeling and the challenge of searching for that elusive angle or composition. Sure, I will explore an old church should I happen across one. But let’s not forget, though it might be suffering from decay, it was designed to be attractive so it’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel. Working with dirty, rusty pipes and chains feels much closer to my original ambition. Purer almost. I can only speak for myself of course but, I find myself most at home shooting big industry, especially on this scale.
Arty-farty pretension aside, it’s just plain old fun to be able to run around a massive Belgian steelworks unimpeded by corporate tour guides or the health & safety rigmarole (admittedly, an attitude which has previously left me with a scar big and ugly enough to pass off as a bullet wound – let’s gloss over that for now).
Taking all of this into account, you can probably get an idea how pleased I was to be able to fit the gargantuan steelworks known quite appropriately as ‘Heavy Metal’ into our itinerary while touring Belgium in March.
The scale of this site was something to behold and yet can be difficult to convey in a postcard-sized jpeg. To get an idea of how big the room above is take a look at the stairs illuminated towards the right of the image. …and this was only one room of many on this scale and complexity on the site.
Every level ascended revealed more of the steelworks secrets. Here, about ten or so storeys up and almost at the ceiling, the gantry cranes suspend enormous hooks on track-bound carts. The hooks would carry equally massive buckets of molten metal across the building.