In the wake of the historic and extraordinary UK Brexit vote comes CJ Clarke’s new photo book Magic Party Place, which explores the identity of the English and the state of contemporary England.

Completed over the course of the last ten years, the book focuses on Clarke’s home town, the new-town of Basildon in Essex. Comprising of a largely white working class community, the town is one of the most statistically average places in England. Located 25 miles east of London, the town is situated in the most homogeneously English part of the country.

In an area of the country expected to do well, the results are still shocking with 68.6% of people voting to leave the EU and only 31.4% voting to remain. Such a result only underlies Basildon’s relevance as a bell-weather district that can reveal to us the true heart of the English people.

Basildon first achieved nationwide notoriety at 11.22pm on Thursday 9 April 1992 when it re-elected Thatcherite MP David Amess. Many analysts saw this as an early sign that, once again, Labour had failed to oust the Conservative Party from power. From this moment, the town – in the media caricature of Basildon Man – was seen as “a barometer for the mood of the nation”. With the decision to exit the EU, Basildon Man has spoken once more.

A new-town, Basildon was built as part of a massive urban renewal program following the devastation of London in the Second World War. As a constructed community it is the perfect paradigm through which to explore the state of the contemporary English nation.


We will screen the recent short film made by CJ Clarke and Paraic O’Brien for Channel 4 News on Basildon, getting to the roots of Basildon, Brexit, new town pioneers and a disconnected youth.

Following this there will be a Q&A with CJ, Paraic, chaired by journalist Michael Fordham, one of the founding editors of HUCK magazine.

For more information on the book:

About the author: CJ Clarke is an award winning filmmaker, producer and photographer.

He is from Essex and, for most of his life, lived in Basildon. He chose to photograph Basildon, not because it was his hometown, but because it represented a certain sector of society that was overlooked by contemporary photography and also one that is largely demeaned within the media. He wanted to explore the lives, habits and environment of Basildon Man – and Basildon women – to see what that might reveal about the state of contemporary England.

3His film Mother & Daughter won the inaugural BJP/Canon Open Shutter award. He also also wrote and directed It Shouldn’t Happen Here an advert Save the Children’s UK poverty campaign.

For over ten years he has been working on the project Magic Party Place which documents the lives, habits and environment of contemporary England. In parallel, CJ has been working on the project Loyalists about post-peace Northern Ireland.

About Michael Fordham:

Michael Fordham is one of the founding editors of HUCK magazine and has written on popular culture for 25 years. He’s currently working on a book that traces a line through class politics and football.

Magic Party Place

Designed by Teun van der Heijden

Published by Kehrer Verlag.
Cloth hardcover (3 color versions)
17 x 22,6 cm
192 pages
105 duotone ills.

ISBN 978-3-86828-689-2