Bengal Rose, Origin China. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021
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Bengal Rose, Origin China. Photograph Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, 2021

Boka sailors brought home roses from the Bay of Bengal, China, for their personal gardens as fragrant privacy hedges during the rule of Venetian and Ottoman empires. To protect itself from the intense Mediterranean sun, the plant develops a purple pigment that acts as a sunscreen.

Over centuries, mariners returned to the Mediterranean with seeds and plantlings. In The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor, I examine how the pursuit of empires, trade, legacy, medicine, religion, and aesthetics forged the coastal landscape of the UNESCO protected site.

The bay's naval fleet peaked at 300 ships to protect its prominent salt trade in the Middle Ages. But, its mariner history potentially traces back to the Balkan Bronze Age. Over millennia, great European empires (Roman, Ottoman, Venetian, Napoleon, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian) owned a piece of the Bay of Kotor for strategic and merchant gain.

Present-day, the Bay of Kotor strives for architectural revitalization and preservation while maintaining its wild beauty and traditions. Venice, Italy, continues to finance the restoration of Kotor's Venetian structures. Retired naval facilities around the bay have converted into five-star resorts and marinas welcoming some of the world's largest yachts. At sunset on July 22nd, sailors arrive for the custom known as fašinada, throwing rocks in the sea near Our Lady of the Rocks, a sailor-formed island near Pearst.

The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay of Kotor collection are manually-manipulated botanical photographs I took within Montenegro's Bay of Kotor. The work emulates stained glass to celebrate these roots of identity and nature through the contemporary window of technology.


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    • Medium Photography
    • Artist Joelle McTigue
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