Relay : Eon

Artist David Cotterrell and Adam Long from Sheffield based rope access company Access Techniques scaled the 90m high stack at E.ON’s Blackburn Meadows Biomass Plant to get a birds-eye view of Blackburn Meadows and across Sheffield and Rotherham. The pair made a number of climbs up and down the stack to install a high tech camera which will take a 360 degree view over 24 hrs capturing the landscape and changing activity through the day and night.

The camera is looking out of the area and showing it’s significance in relation to the city and region. Artist David Cotterrell, who is a qualified rope access technician, said, ‘The view helps you to understand how crucial this place is to the functioning of the city. From the top of the stack you see and appreciate the road network, the river, canal, rail, tram and footpaths that all converge on this point. There are also the unseen flows of energy and heat from the biomass plant and even sewerage to the nearby treatment works. The story of Sheffield is written in this view - you look west along the valley over the city centre to the Peak District from where the fast flowing streams powered the city’s first industry, to the east are the coal measures that once powered heavy industry and below the sites of the former steel works where Sheffield’s reputation as steel maker to the world was forged.’

Luke Ellis, Manager of E.ON’s Biomass Plant said ‘The Biomass Plant runs continuously and the stack can’t be climbed when it is operational but we are delighted to enable David to put his camera up there during a short maintenance shut-down. The images show the plant in its setting supplying sustainably generated electricity and heat to the local community.’ The Biomass Plant which runs on locally sourced recycled waste wood provides enough energy to power around 40,000 homes and also supplies heat directly to homes and businesses in the area through a low-carbon district heating network.

Fully qualified rope access technician Adam Long said, ‘These sorts of climbs are what we do every day but it was great to have a special purpose and to work with David. Being on top of the stack was exhilarating and the weather brightened to give us amazing views all the way to Rotherham.’

The edited film from the chimney will be used as part of the artist’s brief for the main art commission and will be showing at an exhibition of David’s work reflecting on the area at The Scottish Queen Gallery at Park Hill from 17 July.

‘In a way the film sets the tone for the major art project. Everyone looked up at the Cooling Towers and this is looking back at the city from 90m in the air and as near as possible to where they once stood. The focus of the project is not to create a towering landmark but to draw people to this interesting and rapidly changing part of the city.’