Title: Magic Party Place
By: CJ Clarke
Publisher: Kehrer

A pale yellow glow in the late night gloom illuminating the near deserted street below, the neon sign of a first floor restaurant: Magic Party Place. This is an apt title for CJ Clarke’s series of intimate encounters documenting contemporary England through the lives and habits of the post industrial town of Basildon, located 25 miles east of London. A new- town, it was built as part of a massive urban renewal program following the devastation of London in the Second World War. As a constructed community, the town is statistically close to the national average, which makes it the perfect paradigm through which to explore the state of the contemporary English nation. This is Middle England territory, the hearts and minds fought over by political parties for electoral success. Ruggedly individualist in spirit, 73 percent of the town’s population label themselves as working class and, in many ways, it epitomizes Thatcher’s England, the legacy she left behind and the continuation of such conservative policies which seek to make us consumers first and citizens second.