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HomeBTA Activities

Tbilisi Twinning Visit October 2022

October 2022

by Marian Liebmann, BTA member

In 2018 I took part in a twinning visit to Tbilisi to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Bristol Tbilisi Association. This was such an interesting visit that when a second visit was suggested, I could not resist, despite the feeling that flying was no longer something we should be doing. Then Covid struck, postponing this visit till October this year.

The whole group hostsMany people’s circumstances had changed, and there is no longer a direct flight from the UK to Georgia, making travel difficult and expensive. Fortunately, I was able to join a couple and share some of their travel arrangements. We were in the end a very small group of six.

The weekend we arrived just happened to be Tbilisi Day, when the whole city comes out on the streets to celebrate, and there are exhibitions and festivities everywhere. There was a special exhibition of all the cities Tbilisi is twinned with – about 20 of them! Certainly, far more than Bristol.

To get around the traffic-congested city, we made good use of the Metro, which was cheap, frequent, fast, and very noisy. Fortunately, stations were announced in English as well as Georgian, as reading Georgian script was beyond most of us – apart from one member of our group who took on learning Georgian as her ‘lockdown project’ and was able to help us occasionally.

A lot of our time was spent eating! BTA members know how delicious Georgian food and wine is, and we had plenty – special meals with guests from the city, informal meals in parks, and a wonderful meal with a family in their country house – with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, spinach beet, potatoes, walnut paste, Khachapuri (cheese bread), barbecued meat, special home-made plum sauce, fresh fruit and delicious dessert.

At the Botanic GardensWe explored the Old City, noticed the ongoing renovations, took the cable car and the funicular up to the overlooking cliffs, sampled the hot sulphur baths, enjoyed the extensive Botanical Gardens in the rain, visited a couple of museums, and had three almost day-long trips.

The first of these was to a winery about an hour’s drive from Tbilisi. We saw the whole process from grapes through fermentation to storage in special earthenware pots (‘qvevris’) to bottles of ten different types of wine, and finally to our six wine-tasting glasses. And lunch with wine of course!

The second of these was a country walk in the forest with autumn colours, alongside a fast-flowing river, to a set of three very old churches and a twelfth-century bridge. Amazingly the signposts for the various country walks were in English as well as Georgian! And then back to our sumptuous country meal.

The third expedition was quite local, to a jewellery and ‘cloisonné’ workshop. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy this as I am not into jewellery very much. But I was totally fascinated by all the processes. As well as jewellery, the workshop makes enamel watch and clock cases which are then shipped to Switzerland for the movements to be inserted. They also do a lot of work making icons for the Georgian Orthodox Church, for which they had to re-discover eleventh and twelfth century processes.

On our last day three of us visited the Ethnographical Museum in an outer suburb of Tbilisi. I had been there before in 2018, but this visit was much longer. We booked an English-speaking guide for an hour, and he spent three hours with us, showing us all the old houses (mostly transplanted from various parts of Georgia), adding comments about the difficulties of running the museum in current circumstances. He was also an artist and gave us a booklet with his beautiful drawings of all the houses.

This visit was not just a tourist trip - we also met influential people from the city, especially those concerned with the city twinning office, and had many toasts (no Georgian meal is complete without these) to international friendship, to absent friends, and to all those who had helped to make the visit such a warm and welcoming experience.

The other crucial aspect was the presence of Derek Pickup (chair of Bristol Tbilisi Association) as our guide. He had been to Georgia over 50 times, and now even has a Georgian passport! He is also Honorary Consul of Georgia in UK. He was able to add comments about the political situation and developments and changes he had seen over the years. Our visit coincided with the influx of Russians hoping to avoid being drafted into the Russian army, which resulted in hotels filling up and pushing prices up.

With the high rise in fares, and the environmental damage of flying (it would take 3 days at least by train), I wonder what the future of twinning cities will be? It would be a shame if visits like these (and the equivalent visits from Tbilisi to Bristol) could no longer take place. If you would like to know more, think about joining the Bristol Tbilisi Association – there are regular talks and events, even the occasional Georgian supra (formal meal with toasts).

Derek Pickup with our Georgian hostsTwelfth century churchesEnjoying street sculptures










Georgian born and New York-based independent art curator Nina Mdivani's online talk "GEORGIAN FEMALE ARTISTS: A LOOK BACK AND ACROSS"


May 2022

by Nina Bendukidze 

It was a great pleasure to invite Georgian-born and New York-based art curator, writer and researcher Nina Mdivani to make a presentation about different generations of Georgian female artists via Zoom meeting. The lectire was held on 24 May 2022, Tuesday, at 18:00 GMT (London), 13:00 EDT (New York), 21:00 GET (Tbilisi) .

Nina Mdivani


In this virtual lecture Nina looked at nine women artists of Georgia who left an indelible mark on art history. Some of them are our contemporaries, some of them have iconic status, but what unites them are their unique and bold visions of surrounding reality and determination to leave their mark.

Elene Akhvlediani, Ema Lalaeva-Ediberidze, Vera Pagava, Natela Iankoshvili, Esma Oniani, Keti Kapanadze, Natela Grigalashvili, Tamara Kvesitadze, Rusudan Khizanishvili.

One of these artists - Rusudan Khizanishvili - was present at the meeting and spoke out about her art and her vision of the world.

 The talk has been recorded and you can watch/listen it on YouTube  9009710 0

(378) New York - based Art Curator Nina Mdivani's Online Talk "Georgian Female Artists: A Look and Across" - YouTube  

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Georgian Poet in Bristol 2022

March 2022

by Esther Keller-Pickup and Alix Hughes

Georgian poet in Bristol sized


The BTA has partnered with BookHaus Bristol for an event "GEORGIAN POET DIANA ANPHIMIADI TALK - WHY I NO LONGER WRITE POEMS" (Wednesday 23 March 2022 18:30 - 20:00) 

AddressUnit 4 Rope Walk, Bristol BS1 6ZJ


The event was chaired by award winning, critically acclaimed poet Fiona Sampson. Fiona also reviewed the book in the Guardian, giving this quote which is great for publicity: "This is gorgeous, fabulising verse". 


Diana Anphimiadi is a poet, publicist, linguist and teacher. She has published four collections of poetry in Georgian: Shokoladi (Chocolate, 2008), KonspecturiMitologia (Resumé of Mythology, 2009), AlhlokhedvisTraektoria (Trajectory of the Short-Sighted, 2012) and ChrdilisAmoch’ra (Cutting the Shadow, 2015). Her poetry has received prestigious awards, including first prize in the 2008 Tsero (Crane Award) and the Saba Prize for the best first collection in 2009. Her chapbook, Beginning to Speak, was published in 2018 by the Poetry Translation Centre, and Why I No Longer Write Poems, the first full-length Georgian-English selection of her poetry, is published by Bloodaxe Books with the Poetry Translation Centre in 2022, both titles translated by Natalia Bukia-Peters and Jean Sprackland.

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Translator Natalia Bukia-Peters, UK poet Jean Sprackland and Diana Anphimiadi gave readings in Georgian and English. A discussion about writing the book and creating the translations aroused great interest among the audience. Unfortunately Diana had to be there through Skype because of visa and family issues. The BTA chairman Derek Pickup bought a copy of her poems to put in the Central library. 






Nino Beglarishvili about Christmas in Georgia

January 2022

by Esther Pickup-Keller and Nina Bendukidze

The subject of a regular Zoom talk organized by Bristol Tbilisi Association on  20th of January 2022 was the Georgian Christmas. This talk was given by Nino Beglarishvili who has been a friend of Bristol for many years. She works in the Mayor's Office in Tbilisi and is responsible for international links, including the link with Bristol. She has completed two work placements in Bristol City Council in the International Department. She has been of immense help to BTA members when they have organised visits to Tbilisi and we were very grateful to her for speaking to us on 20th January; after all, it was nearly bedtime in Georgia, when we met. 

Whilst we associate 25th December with Christmas, the Eastern Orthodox church has 7th of January in their calendar for this celebration. 

Zoom meeting Nino Beglarishvili talk1Chichilaki Georgian christmass tree  



Mikheil Tsereteli, Deputy Director of the Georgian National Museum Online Talk "Building Capacity of Museums – Culture as a Way or Development of a Country in Transition"

December 2021

by Esther Pickup-Keller & Nina Bendukidze

After re-gaining its independence in 1991 Georgia declared its aspiration toward the European values. Due to its geographic location, Georgia has long been a natural crossroads for many powerful cultures. Nevertheless, the country has preserved its cultural identity. Thoughtful management of cultural heritage may play key role in construction new democratic country. Building strong academic and cultural institutions is crucial for these processes.

The Georgian National Museum, countries largest complex unifying museums and research institutes was established in 2004, unifies 20 museums and institutions in Tbilisi and regions of Georgia. Since that The Georgian National Museum tries to conduct research projects and present internationally significant collections that provide visitors with inspiration and knowledge of the wonderful world of science, arts, culture and education.

Presentation has given an overview on the activities of the Georgian National Museum in the above-mentioned context.

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British Ambassador to Georgia Mark Clayton's Online Talk "My First Year as Ambassador, it's challenges and successes under COVID-19"

November 2021

by Nina Bendukidze

Mark Clayton prior to becoming the British Ambassador to Georgia in 2020 served as Deputy Director of European Security and Defence. in 2017-2018, he held the job of Minister Counselor in Moscow. He is a career diplomat and has held various positions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 1997 – Desk Officer at Baltic States department (1997-1998), Head of EU-Former Soviet Union relations Team (2004-2005), Head of G8 Team (2005-2007), Deputy Head of Counter-Terrorism Department (2010-2014). 

UntitledMark Claydon












The Lord Mayor welcomed a group of Georgian students studying at the University of Bristol to the City Hall

November 2021

by Alix Hughes 

The Lord Mayor welcomed a group of Georgian students studying at the University of Bristol on Monday, the 8th of November, to City Hall and gave them a guided tour including the Tbilisi Room. Derek Pickup, the Bristol Tbilisi Assosiation Chairman and Alix Hughes, the Bristol City Council European and International Department Officer, were with them. They are loving being in Bristol and have already discovered some interesting places around the Harbourside. The fifth student was unable to join the meeting.

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Online Talk by Tony Anderson about his book "Bread and Ashes: A Walk Through the Mountains of Georgia" and other travel to Georgia books

October 2021

by Nina Bendukidze

We had a regular Zoom talk organized by Bristol Tbilisi Association on 28th of October 2021. Tony Anderson, a big our friend and a member of BTA, talked about his book "Bread and Ashes: Walking the Georgia Mountains",his future book and other travel guides to Georgia and explained why you shouldn't trust everything they say. He showed various books about traveling in Georgia, the first of which was written by Sir John Mandeville in the 14th century.

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