In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and the North African coast lies Malta, a tiny archipelago and independent nation abundant in history and culture. It was here that London-based photographer Alex Fleming shot an exclusive photo series for IGNANT, juxtaposing architecture, portraiture, and luxury cars in tribute to a bygone era.
Malta’s warm climate, dazzling landscapes, architecture, and megalithic temples make it a striking place worth visiting. “It’s just a brilliantly beautiful place, rich in heritage and culture, with a unique event bringing together people from all over the world,” Fleming says. He is speaking of the Malta Classic, a multi-day event celebrating the vintage style of sought-after classic cars, held on the island annually. The photographer flew into Malta to capture the competition on his Pentax 67 analog camera; and in the story that follows, he paints a portrait of the experience dripping in intimate detail and observation.
“It’s just a brilliantly beautiful place, rich in heritage and culture, with a unique event bringing together people from all over the world”
“I spent three and a half days in Malta, staying by night just outside of Bugibba, in Salina. Malta, being one of the most densely populated countries per square kilometer, was refreshing to explore at sunrise; walking into the sun-dappled beige landscape, it was completely quiet. A man sat on the shore, fishing. Behind him the salt pans glistened, reflecting the buildings in a pinkish hue. I drove from there to Mdina, the old capital, a city bounded by tall bastion fortifications. It was mesmerising to explore the narrow passages, fueled by fleeting light and long cast shadows from the midday sun. It’s hard not to be captivated by the baroque Catholic Church at its center, and placed there was the Concours d’Elegance. Exquisite automotives pre-dating 1975 were placed uniformly with bustling crowds filtered amongst them. The day passes, the cars are lined up in their paddocks just outside of the city walls. A rich sonance of exhaust fumes, the smell of gasoline upon the nose: they race the roads around the City in fighting spirit.”
Shooting on film gives Fleming permission to look into this other world, gathering and documenting yet allowing his imagination to flourish. “It’s an invitation to see into a different lifestyle, much like living on prosperous Long Island in 1922,” he says, (referencing the setting of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel The Great Gatsby). “It reminds me of the quote by the character Jordan: ‘I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy’.”