Built in 1949, Basildon is the last and the largest of post-war new towns built in Britain, specifically to house the expanding population of working-class east Londoners. Basildon is home to the Basildon Man (otherwise known as ‘Mr. Thatcher’ or ‘Mondeo Man’) archetype, immortalised in the 80s by social commentator Harry Enfield’s ‘Loadsamoney’ character who is portrayed as an illiterate working class painter and decorator with no sense but plenty of money – somebody who had done well as a result of Thatcherite economic policy. In the generations born after Basildon Man, money and economic investment dried up. Shot over the course of the run up to the 2019 general election and Britain’s departure from the European Union, Bellwether Town explores the relationship between place and identity for a group of young people aged 17 to 22 who have experienced the consequences of economic downturn in a place once described by Hayes and Hudson as the ‘laboratory of Thatcher’s revolution’.
About the Photographer
Daniel Harvey Gonzalez (b. 1997) is a documentary photographer based in the United Kingdom whose practice is concerned with social issues informed by his own lived experience; more specifically he is interested in how environments shape identities and the relationship that exists between person and place. Gonzalez has shown work at the 2018 Guernsey Photography Festival, the 71a Gallery in London, and Bene Culture in Birmingham. Selected awards and publications include an honourable mention in the 2019 International Photography Awards, a commendation in the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards, and publications with Loose London and Lost Generation Projects. He graduated from the Documentary Photography degree at the University of South Wales in 2020.