Paul Railton (GB, b. 1980) is a documentary photographer based in London, England. His work examines what remains following human interaction with land, often focusing on dystopian charm or the interplay between beauty and pain in a space. A graduate of Manchester School of Art, Railton’s work has been published in The Irish Times, The Sunday Times and The Irish Examiner, and exhibited in the UK, France and China.
Massifs is a series of images made in response to the disposal of 80,000 tonnes of mud in an underwater sandbank known as Cardiff Grounds, which is located approximately 1.8 miles from the Cardiff coastline. Discussions around the safety of the mud and plans to dispose of up to 800,000 tonnes are currently ongoing between the energy company, EDF, the UK government, and Natural Resources Wales. The plans for further dredging and dumping of the mud have been met with fierce opposition from local environmental groups, due to the lack of consultation with those most affected.
This project asks questions about the effect on local communities, as well as the environmental impact, of dumping potentially harmful contaminated mud close to a city. It also touches on the mutually beneficial exchanges between governments and corporate entities, as well as the citizens and wildlife affected by their actions.
Do governments have a legal or moral duty to protect their citizens? Have we now reached a time where the actions of governments and corporations no longer surprise or outrage many of the people who live in the affected communities? Have we become somewhat desensitised to tragedy, corruption, and devastation? Being aware of the state of the world in more detail than ever before, have we run out of energy to care?
The images in this series have been made along the Welsh coastline, from Cardiff to Barry Island: the area of coastline that will be most affected by any contamination.