'More British Than Britain': This Photographer Captures the Gibraltarian Experience

Gibraltar is a British territory on the south coast of Spain
Gibraltar is a British territory on the south coast of Spain | © Luke Archer
Culture Trip

London-based photographer Luke Archer began his project ‘The Rock’ to illustrate what life looks like in Gibraltar, a 2.6-square-mile British territory on the south coast of Spain. Relatively little is known about the territory, except that is often described as ‘more British than Britain’. Here, Archer describes the project in his own words, and discusses his goals to expand people’s perceptions about what it means to be Gibraltarian.

Gibraltar has always intrigued me. I have family who live on ‘Gib’, but summer visits were mainly spent in neighbouring Spain. I started my Master’s in photography with the intention of creating a body of documentary work. With Brexit looming, it seemed like the right project at the right time.

Gibraltar towers over the neighbouring Spanish town of La Linea

Gibraltar is a country that is misunderstood, and some people don’t even know exists. I recently met someone who thought it was an island in the middle of an ocean but, just because it’s small, I don’t think it should be overlooked.

Gibraltar is often described as being ‘more British than Britain’, and that pride can be seen in the Union Jacks displayed on the 10 September, its National Day. The date commemorates a referendum held in 1967 in which Gibraltar’s citizens voted to remain a British territory by close to 100 percent.

However, in a more recent referendum, Gibraltarians voted differently to other Brits. The small territory voted ‘remain’ by over 96 percent. Perhaps being physically connected to mainland Europe gave its people a sharper sense of the risk our country now faces.

It’s worth noting that, on National Day, British flags fly side by side with the Gibraltarian flag but, just like Wales and Scotland, Gibraltar has its own national identity. Like many ports, people from around the world have made it their home over the years, and it is a more diverse location than many might expect.

As my project develops, I’m going to dig deeper, meet more people, and continue to learn what it means to be Gibraltarian.

The Rock of Gibraltar in front of the North Front Cemetery, Gibraltar’s only working cemetery
Every day around 8,000 Spanish workers cross the border to work in Gibraltar
National Day is celebrated on 10 September. It commemorates the 1967 referendum, when Gibraltarians voted by close to a 100 percent to remain British
Most Gibraltarians wear red and white for National Day, the colours of the Gibraltarian flag
Every National Day, three blocks of flats compete for the best flag display
At any one time, 18 trucks are on the road to supply Gibraltar’s Morrisions with British products
On National Day, many residents display Union Jack flags
The Gibraltar Cadet Force is open to boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18
Gibraltar’s airport is often listed in the top 10 most dangerous in the world. Winston Churchill Avenue leads from the main town to the border and crosses the runway. It has to be closed when planes come in to land

Luke Archer is a London-based photographer, more of his work can be found on his website.

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