sat 10/12/2016

theartsdesk in Tbilisi: The Dilemma over Georgian Architecture | reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk in Tbilisi: The Dilemma over Georgian Architecture

theartsdesk in Tbilisi: The Dilemma over Georgian Architecture

Row splits artists and residents as picturesque old houses are bulldozed

Old Tbilisi: Gudiashvili Square, the balcony of 'Lermontov's House'© Peter Nasmyth

In Tbilisi, Georgia, artists and art historians are calling for the Government to stop destroying their classic Old Town with its winding streets and wooden balconies. New organisations have been formed, exhibitions held to publicise this creeping eradication of history. Now another grand, once-protected building, the former Institute of Marxism and Leninism, has appeared in the cross-hairs.

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I recently returned from teaching English in Georgia. While there, I was struck by the oddly uneven re/development work going on around the Old Town. Thank you for giving some context for the struggle going on around defining the visual and historical landscapes.

Even if one is aware of the wealth of attractive architecture in Tbilisi, seeing the extent of it for the first time comes as a surprise. Walking through older parts of the city with their balconies - from the ornate to those you would be dubious about standing on - and range of architectural detail is a joy. But the thought that keeps crossing one's mind is that, even with benign planning and development (to say nothing of a large budget), much of this is likely to simply crumble away. Anyone interested in a slightly different angle of what Tbilisi has to offer might try to obtain a copy of "Façade sculptures in Tbilisi, 19th and early 20th centuries" published (in Georgian and English) by Old City Rehabilitation and Development Fund, (2008; ISBN 978-9941-0-0413-1).

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