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HomeBTA Activities


July 2015

by Derek Pickup


From 24th to 26th July in Bristol  we had the annual Urban Paint Festival UPFEST where over three hundred street artists painted their socks off. Bacha's (Dr. Love) work was universally liked and to pay for his visit he is painting five canvas's which we are going to sell for £100 each. He hasn't started painting them yet and he has already sold three of them, one has been bought by the Mayor, George Ferguson. We have noticed that the work he painted is prominent on social media and getting a lot of interest. Here is a photograph of his art piece (left Dr Love and right Mayor Ferguson).

The tree is made out of real moss and he has used organic glue which means that the moss will continue to grow and flourish. The theme of the picture was to fit in with Bristol being European Green Capital. Bacha is holding an exhibition in Tbilisi sometime around December. Check out Dr Love's Facebook page for more images. In fact last week he completed the largest piece of street art in Georgia in Batumi, over 25 metres high and 35mtres wide. Bacha's visit has been a big hit and we hope he will come again next year.



Thousands of visitors to UPFest crowded around Dr Love's piece in the sunshine on Saturday. Some hailed him as "the Banksy of Georgia" while others living in the street offered to water his moss regularly. Members of the BTA handed out postcards and information about the twinning and spoke with hundreds of excited urban art lovers. The twitter sphere went into overload with images of Dr Love's piece suitably fitting the European Green Capital theme.

A letter from the BTA chairman - Derek Pickup

Dear BTA Members,

Last weekend there was the Bristol Upfest festival in South Bristol and thanks to the BTA and BITA we managed to get the top Georgian street artist Bacha Koperia more commonly known as Dr Love to come and participate. Over 250 artists took part in Upfest and the picture painted by Bacha was regarded as one of the best. For those of you who want to see it, go to the corner of North Street and Greville Road in Southville. The picture is next to the Hen and Chicken pub, it is well worth the visit:

The Mayor was so impressed that be joined BTA members for lunch at the Tobacco Factory. To fund Bacha's visit Bacha painted seven pictures which I managed to sell to BTA members and others for £600' well done everyone. Even the Mayor bought a picture.

The visit was so successful that Bacha will hopefully be back next year. Many thanks for the BTA for buying his paints, Alix for getting Bacha to Bristol, Esther and I for putting him up and all those who bought his pictures. Bacha also painted a picture for UPfest which was sold the day it went on display and he painted a picture for the Tbilisi Flood Appeal which sold for £180, I think. This was a real success, we looked at one social media site that his picture was on and by Monday it had had over 10,000 hits, not bad. Keep up the good work everyone. https://twitter.com/hashtag/DrLove?src=hash

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Charity Auction and Concert to Support Tbilisi Flood Victims: 13 July 2015

July 2015

by Stephen Thomas


£2500 was raised at a very successful charity auction and concert at the Mansion House, Bristol. Organised by the Bristol Tbilisi Association to support the victims of the devastating flood in Tbilisi, Georgia in June of this year, the auction and concert was attended by Mayor George Ferguson, the Georgian Ambassador to the UK and the Lord Mayor of Bristol. Items ranging from Georgian wine and brandy to original artworks by Georgian artists were auctioned by Bristol based celebrity auctioneer Jamie Breese.

Guests were welcomed with Georgian wine and traditional Khachapuri cheese bread and a performance by the Bristol Georgian choir singing some stunning Georgian choral music.

Tbilisi’s disastrous flooding led to loss of life and destroyed the city’s zoo leading to the death of most of the animals. There was also considerable damage to the surrounding area and it is estimated that the city, still emerging from the transition from communism and a savage war with Russia, will need £24 million for rebuilding.

Under the leadership of Derek and Esther Pickup the Bristol Tbilisi Association has been developing links with the Georgian capital since 1988 with initiatives such as a recent business delegation and regular support for the city’s School for the Deaf.  Alderman Pickup was extremely gratified that this successful event ‘involved a large number of people offering and giving support. The generosity of the audience was fantastic’ he said



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May, 2015



Dr Dunthorn has already spoken to the BTA with a compelling talk about Joseph  Stalin.   In  this  talk  he  will  map  out  the  career  of  Eduard Shevardnaze  in  the  Soviet  Union  but  give  particular  emphasis  to  the troubled period as  Georgian Head of State between 1992 and 2003 in which three attempts were made on his life and which ended with the Rose Revolution.

TICKETS ON THE DOOR: £5 including a glass of wine

LOCATION: Units 1 & 2 Freeling House, Prewittt Street, Bristol, BS16RE



President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia photographed during his meeting with Secretary of Defense William Cohen at The Pentagon











Talk "The Photography of Dmitri Ermakov"

April 2015

by Alix Hughes and Stephen Thomas


The Bristol Tbilisi Association organised an evening talk about Dmitri Ivanovich Ermakov an early 19th Century, the photographer known for his series of Caucasian photographs. BTA vice-chairman Stephen Thomas was leading the talk, which is supported by a slide show. 

Dmitri  Ermakov  was  born  in  Tbilisi  in  1846.  His  passion  was  for ethnographic photography and for depicting the lives of ordinary people in Georgia and other parts of the region. He visited remote parts of the Caucasus and was the first to take photographs.  Some of his most vivid photographs show life in Tbilisi at the turn of the last century and it is these that will be focused on in the talk.  Ermakkov’s images of Tbilisi will be contrasted with contemporary photographs.

11080905 862644513802597 1547306430421484692 nEntry to the event included a glass of Georgian Wine and Khachapuri.

LOCATION: Units 1 & 2 Freeling House, Prewitt Street, Bristol, BS16RE

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BTA Supra 2015

February 2015

by Derek Pickup and Nina Bendukidze


On Friday 13th February the BTA held a Georgian Supra in The Kitchen Cafe, Silver Street, Bristol BS1 2AG, in the heart of Bristol.  Please click here to see how the invitation looked.  It was a ticket only event. The Banquet or Supra was attended by over sixty people who feasted on genuine Georgian cuisine.

The Guests of honour were the Councillor Alastair Watson The Lord Mayor of Bristol and Lady Mayoress of Bristol and His Excellency the Georgian Ambassador Professor Revaz Gachechiladze and his wife. The guests were entertained by the superb The Bristol Georgian Choir who recently performed for the Prime Minister of Georgia in the capital city of Tbilisi.  This was an extraordinary evening which showcased the wonderful traditions of Georgian Hospitality and Goodwill.  True Georgian fashion the Tamada or Toast Master proposed a series of traditional toasts which were celebrated with Georgian wines.  Georgia as the earliest producer of wine has an uninterrupted tradition of wine making stretching back over 8,000 years.

The atmosphere of the evening was brilliant. Do you recognise people who were wearing the Georgian national dress? 

If you would like to be introduced to the wines and cuisine of Georgia then you should join us on the 3rd October when we will be having Georgian Wine Tasting at the Mansion House featuring some of the most exciting new wines in the world.  Watch the website for details of tickets.


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The Bristol Tbilisi Association’s Trade Mission to Tbilisi

October 2014

by Alix Hughes

Meeting in the Tbili9si City Hall 5 webThe Bristol Tbilisi Association’s Trade Mission to Tbilisi , led by the Lord mayor Councillor Alastair Watson, has returned home inspired and motivated to increase economic development with partners in Tbilisi. The British Embassy’s Commercial Attache Data Parulava, Tbilisi City Council’s International Relations officer Nino Beglarishvili and Tbilisi Bristol chair and local businessman Kakha Jorjoliani arranged a series of business meetings with the Georgian Chamber of Commerce plus three high profile Embassy contacts including the CEO of the biggest mobile phone company in Georgia. Participants had one to one sessions arranged with counterpart businesses as well as general visits to relevant contacts such as the Economic Policy committee at the Georgian Parliament, the Judiciary department, Tbilisi City Council and Tbilisi State University.

Meeting in the Tbili9si City Hall 3 webFormal dinners had been arranged and guests included the Prime Minister of Georgia and the Mayor of Tbilisi plus government Ministers and City Council elected members.

At every meal the Bristol Georgian choir sang in Georgian and this had a huge impact on those Georgians present as well as the Embassy staff. The Prime Minister even abandoned his departure to listen. Bristol musician Andy Sheppard and his trio took the Tbilisi Jazz Festival by storm resulting in 2,300 people giving them a standing ovation. Unlike all the other stars on the bill, Andy attempted a few words of Georgian which immediately won over the crowd. British Ambassador Alexandra Hall-Hall who drives around Tbilisi in a mini painted in the colours of the Union Jack, played a very important role in our visit: generating press and media coverage on a daily basis, speaking and toasting very positively at the meetings and meals as well as enjoying and commenting on the friendliness and informality of the Bristol delegation. At the reception at the British Embassy with 100 invited guests, we were able to present five Lord Mayor’s medals to key individuals who have supported our work, including one to the British Ambassador who accepted it on behalf of all her predecessors as well as herself.

1507132 Derek  Esther webDuring the lavish banquet at the Funiculare restaurant which overlooked the city as fireworks explodes as part of the Tbilsoba wine harvest festival, the Mayor of Tbilisi presented BTA chairman Derek Pickup with the first ever Guardian of the City of Tbilisi Medal. The Mayor spoke for several minutes about Derek’s unpaid commitment to the twinning over the past 18 years and the participating delegations from other twin cities and from the British, US and Israeli embassies rose to applaud Derek’s devotion to international friendship. The delegation agreed with Derek that really he couldn’t have done it all without his wife Esther’s support and hard work and that the medal belongs to both of them. All in all a memorable, inspiring and rewarding trip

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Georgian President and Georgian Ambassador to the UK are welcomed in Bristol by the BTA members

September 2014

by Derek Pickup and Alix Hugh

securedownload 1Georgian PresidentPresident Giorgi Margvelashvili of the Republic of Georgia (left) arrived late last night at Bristol airport leading a top level delegation for the NATO summit in Cardiff. Georgia is on track to become a NATO member and the President will be reinforcing Georgia's capability to be a full member.
The Presidents private plane had come from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital which is also Bristol's twin city, and taxied to a special high security terminal at the airport. Surrounded by officials from the Foreign Office, NATO and his team of officials, President Margvelashvili was welcomed by Alix Hughes from the twinnings association and Bristol Tbilisi Association chairman Derek Pickup with members of the BTA executive and representatives of the local Georgian community.  The President informed the Bristol group that he had brought with him the new Georgian Ambassador to the UK, Professor Revaz Gachechiladze, whose papers he had signed on the flight and that his arrival day in Bristol was his first day in office! (right)

Derek Pickup said " The Georgian Embassy had asked us to welcome the President and we were able to present him with a book about Bristol and mention our Trade Mission to Georgia planned for October. We also offered to show his entourage around Bristol as they will be based just outside the city in a confidential location. It is important to have the Bristol Tbilisi link recognised at the highest levels in Georgia as this opens doors for our companies and our cultural projects"

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1. President Margvelashvili arriving at the NATO high security terminal

2. Ambassador Gachechiladze (glasses) meeting Bristol Tbilisi Association chair Derek Pickup and Alix Hughes, BITA co-ordinator.

3. Georgian Ambassador Prof Revaz Gachechiladze starts his first day in the post in Bristol with Derek Pickup

4. Lunch with Derek Pickup and John Hirst - Chief Executive of the Destination Bristol



The Business Breakfast in Bristol

July 2014
by Derek Pickup and Alix Hughes

A full house at the business breakfast webMako Abashidze web

On behalf of the BTA, Alix Hughes organised a Doing Business with Georgia breakfast event for local companies at Goldbrick House on 31st July 2014. The event featured keynote speakers from the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce and the Georgian Embassy in London. The business breakfast was attended by full with representation from different businesses across the city. The The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Bristol Councillor Alastair Watson welcomed everybody to the breakfast and thanked them for coming.  Presentations were made by the Georgian Embassy regarding the business climate in Georgia and its importance as the gateway to the Caucasus region.

The MD from the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce Mako Abashidze spoke about the opportunities for British business and the importance of the new trade agreement with the European Union which was signed in June. She highlighted how important finding the right partners is to a successful business venture and that her network of members across a range of sectors would offer Bristol companies the best place to start. With over ten years experience in the field of both inward investment and export partnerships the BGCC can help local companies find their feet in a fast growing market.

Ms Nino Kharadze from the Georgian Embassy outlined how Georgia was now open for business and in the top ten countries worldwide making it easier for companies to invest in their country.

Colin Gorrie spoke about the importance of sharing cultures and spoke about the exchange of Jazz artists between bristol and Tbilisi.

Derek Pickup from the BTA rounded off the meeting by highlighting the recent economic report published in the Guardian about now being the time for British business to make the most of the opportunities in Georgia. He explained the key elements to the BTA’s planned Trade Mission to Tbilisi in the autumn and encouraged more local companies to take up the offer.   http://www.theguardian.com/the-report/georgia

The business delegation will be flying to Tbilisi for three days in October for a packed three day programme. The event was a sell-out and inspired several follow up requests for more information and details about the Trade Mission.

Please click on the link below to read the British Ambassador to Georgia, Ms Alexandra Hall-Hall's recent interview on UK-Georgia relations:

Nino Kharadze who is a counsellor at the Georgian Embassy Mako and The Lord Mayor at the business breakfast web2 Alix Hughes talking about the importance of working with our twinned cities web2 IMG 2765 web

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1. A full house at the Business Breakfast at Goldbrick house, Bristol, at 31st July 2014

2. Mako Abashidze, MD of the British Georgian chamber of Commerce  talking about business opportunities in Georgia for British Companies

3. Nino Kharadze who is a counsellor at the Georgian Embassy, Mako Abashidze and The Lord Mayor at the business breakfast

4. Alix Hughes is talking about the importance of working with our twinned cities.

5. Colin Gorrie with a bottle of Georgian red wine - Saperavi (Marani).

6. BTA chairman Derek Pickup rounded off the meeting by highlighting the recent economic report published in the Guardian.

7. BTA members at the Business Breakfast.

8. Cllr Alastair Watson The Lord Mayor, Cllr Geoff Gollup deputy Mayor and Stephen Hilton head of economic development for Bristol city council at the Business Breakfast



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