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