Iggy Smalls was originally drawn to Gibraltar out of curiosity.
After the 2016 Brexit results, it was revealed that the island territory voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union (with 96 percent of Gibraltarians voting to stay out of an 82 percent turnout). The number struck her, causing her to wonder what would happen to the territory that has long been a source of dispute between the British and Spanish governments now that both politics and economics were shifting.
After researching the impact the results would have on Gibraltar’s cultural climate, Iggy couldn’t determine anything. So, she decided to venture to the British territory herself to create a photo collection that would capture the current atmosphere of the land.
Aside from the aftermath of the Brexit polls, Gibraltar’s considerable history also inspired Iggy’s travel. She purposefully booked her trip during the celebration of National Day, the 50th anniversary of the Gibraltar sovereignty referendum. Once plans were set and tickets booked, she grabbed her film camera and headed to the 2.6 square-mile stretch of land on Spain’s southern coast.
Iggy had very few expectations for what her collection would become, but she wanted the result to convey the true feeling of the territory, from an outsider’s perspective. She describes her time there as “busy.” Since she was on a tight budget, she stayed in Spain and walked across the border each day, taking note of the political relationship between Spanish and British officials as she passed.
She spent her time visiting the areas around the Rock of Gibraltar: the Northern District, the East Side, the Sandpits area, Town Area, Europa Point, and the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. She met locals who were welcoming and spoke openly about their home. She caught glimpses into the mixed culture of the land, which was shaped by Jewish, Portuguese, Moroccan, and Genoese Gibraltarians. She listened to the Llanito and Spanish languages, and experienced the distinct foods and architecture that each area is known for.
The most memorable moment of her trip was the celebration of the Gibraltar National Day. That morning, Iggy watched as hundreds of people dressed in red and white gathered in the main square, singing Beatles’ songs. Everyone was simply having fun. Throughout the day, they dispersed to beaches, fairs, and pubs, and the celebration ended at midnight with fireworks and a philharmonic concert, which could be heard for miles.
Looking back on her time there, Iggy was surprised by how dramatic the landscape really is — visually, culturally, and economically. It was an environment she had never experienced before. Although she did notice some anti-Gibraltar graffiti in La Línea de la Concepción, the Spanish town she was staying in, she saw that each population needed the other — the people of La Línea earn more by working in Gibraltar, and it is cheaper for Gibraltarians to shop and live in La Línea. As the ramifications of Brexit continue to pan out, Iggy wonders what will happen to these bordering areas.
Although she was only able to stay for a week, Iggy hopes that her photo collection commands some of the attention that the territory deserves. It’s clear that the people of Gibraltar have a collective opinion on how Brexit should or should not affect them and their relationship with their Spanish neighbors, and Iggy plans to continue to explore this relationship when she returns to Gibraltar in the coming months.