Unveiling Vazha Pshavela

Stories and Artworks Inspired by the Poet

1 March 2019, 18.45 - 21.00
Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP

Asia House, the British Georgian Society and the Embassy of Georgia to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland present Talk and Book Launch followed by Poetry Reading and Georgian Polyphonic Singing, inspired by the 19th-20th century renowned Georgian poet Vazha Pshavela

The new publication Unveiling Vazha Pshavela is the most comprehensive book to date of the poet's works in English. The publication is initiated by Georgian/British artist Andro Semeiko as part of his project investigating notions of self and motherland - through landscape, ethnography, and language of Vazha Pshavela. The poems in the book have been selected to illustrate the poet's powerful, tragic, often Shakespearean force, as well as the development of his ideas and approach to nature, very relevant to ecological politics in the world today. They have been translated by Donald Rayfield OBE. The book includes specially commissioned works by the contemporary Georgian writer Ana Kordzaia-Samadashvili, Georgian fashion designer Manana Antelidze, and the artists Leonid Semeiko and Andro Semeiko, which give a many-sided vision of the poet’s work.

  • The event will be opened by the Ambassador of Georgia to the UK, HE Tamar Beruchashvili. 
  • Donald Rayfield will give a talk about the poet’s work followed by a discussion about the book with Andro Semeiko.
  • A surprise distinguished guest will read selected poems from the book.
  • Maspindzeli Choir will sing Georgian polyphonic songs.
  • The artworks featured in the publication will be on display in the gallery.
  • The book will be available to purchase during the event.
  • Complimentary Georgian Wine and Canapés will be served to the guests.

Publication of the book was made possible by the generous support from Georgian National Book Center and Arts Council England.

General Admission: £10, Concession (60+): £8, Students: FREE 


If you are unable to attend the launch but would like to purchase the book, you can find it on Andro Semeiko’s website: https://www.androsemeiko.com/vazha or from Foyles, Waterstones, Amazon and many art-specialised bookshops in the U.K.

The BGS Rustaveli Day and Annual General Meeting will be held at 6pm on the 27th November 2018 at at the Royal Asiatic Society. 

Introduction by David Gigauri (British Georgian Society)

The British-Georgian actress Miki Iveria – the story of Princess Gayane Mickeladze
A talk by her nephew Dr. Henry Sanford.

The presentation will consist of extracts & photos from the memoirs of Gayane Mickeladze, a British-Georgian actress who came to England after the death in Menton of her father, Prince Iverico Mickeladze. Her family were hunted by the Bolsheviks, but escaped against all odds. Betrayed by a trusted Chinese servant, then rescued by a Jewish family, she was present at some of the pivotal moments in the history of the 20th century. When a child, Gayane was in the middle of the bombardment of Feodosia by German warships, attached to the Turkish navy, that brought Turkey into the first world war. Her Father’s encounter with Rasputin is extraordinary. Was football at her home the first to be played in the Russian Empire? Her account of the voyage on the SS Saratoff and ensuing boarding by Georgians and fight at sea is perhaps an unrecorded event. Her Father, who had been the youngest judge in the Empire, teamed up with a Circassian brigand to run arms to General Wrangel’s army in the Crimea. In England he met Churchill at the Central Asian Society having been entrusted with a plan to prise Georgia away from the USSR by making it a British Protectorate. Princess Gayane’s passion was acting and Maltese dogs. Under a stage name Miki Iveria, her career in theatre encompassed several decades and dozens of supporting roles in the UK. Iveria made her screen debut in The Adventures of Tartu and went on to play in over 30 films.

Medieval Georgian Romance The Man in a Panther-Skin & Shakespeare's Late Plays
Book presentation by Prof. Elguja Khintibidze.

Prof Khintibidze, Head of the Institute of the History of Georgian Literature at Tbilisi State University, will present his new book, translated into English in 2018. It’s an amazing story and a brilliant piece of academic research which aims to establish, for the first time, a fascinating connection between Elizabethan theatre and the great Georgian national 12th century epic. Based on the most rigorous textual analysis, he shows how remarkable similarities in theme, setting, plot, action and character - way beyond any mere coincidence of archetypes – demonstrate the clear influence of the Georgian epic upon both Shakespeare and Beaumont & Fletcher, particularly in Cymbeline, A King and No King and Philaster.

The event will be followed by Georgian wine & canapes by Tamada Restaurant. 


Details of the Panel Members:

H.E. Tamara Beruchashvili, Georgian Ambassador to the UK

Tamar Beruchashvili has been the Georgian Ambassador to the United Kingdom since March 2016. She was previously was the Minister of Foreign Affairs (2014-2015), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (2013-2014), Minister of Euro-Atlantic Integration (2004), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (2000- 2003) and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations (1998-2000). In addition, from 2000 to 2010 she was a professor at Tbilisi State University.

David Lee

David has an MBA from Warwick Business School, qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG and speaks Georgian and Russian. A former Royal Navy Officer, he has led companies in developing markets since 1990. He was the CEO of Magticom, the largest telecommunications company in Georgia (2004-2016) and President of American Chamber of Commerce (2008-2012). He is currently the CEO of Lee LLC, the CEO of the European Business Association Georgia, Chair of the Europe Foundation and of the Caucasus Research Resource Centre.

Mark Pritchard MP

Mark has been the MP for The Wrekin (a semi-rural seat in Shropshire) since 2005. He studied theology, holds two Masters Degrees (in International Diplomacy and in Marketing & Management) a Post-graduate Diploma in Marketing and a Diploma in Public Relations. He currently serves on the Chairman's Panel of the House of Commons, which chairs and oversees Bills and Debates. He was appointed by the Prime Minister to the UK delegation to the Council of Europe in 2015. In 2017 he was appointed as the UK's first Trade Envoy to Georgia and Armenia.

David Howarth

David is a British academic and politician. He was the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge from 2005 to 2010. He is currently Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. He is theauthor of “Textbook on Tort”, “Law as Engineering: Thinking about What Lawyers Do” and variousarticles in academic journals and chapters in academic books. He has also been the Leader of Cambridge City Council and a member of the Liberal Democrats' Federal Policy Committee.

Kornely Kakachia

Kornely is Professor of Political Science at Tbilisi State University and Director of the Tbilisi based think-tank The Georgian Institute of Politics. His current research focuses on Georgian domestic and foreign policy, security issues of the wider Black Sea area and comparative party politics. He was arecipient of IREX and OSI fellowships and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Black SeaSecurity program (2009–2010), the Harriman Institute, Columbia University (2011) and The JohnsHopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

Hubertus Jahn (Chair)

Hubertus is Reader in the History of Russia and the Caucasus in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He holds a PhD from Georgetown University and a second higher doctorate from the University of Erlangen in Germany. He has taught at universities in the USA, Germany, and the UK. His research covers much of Russian history, with a focus on social and cultural aspects, as well as the history of Georgia and the South Caucasus.

The Book of TbilisiWednesday, May 23d. Doors open at 5.45 for a 6.00pm start

Georgian Embassy, 4 Russell Gardens, W14 8EZ

The British Georgian Society is delighted to welcome Becca Parkinson from Comma Press with  Zviad Kvaratskhelia and Bacho Kvirtia, two of the young writers featured in  the Book of Tbilisi. The book is published by Comma Press and the publisher, Becca Parkinson, will talk about the project.

As Gvantsa Jobava writes in his introduction to the book: “The ten stories selected for this book offer a kind of literary guidebook to an outside world that used to be very remote. They tell you about the human challenges of living in a small country struggling to maintain its place on the map…..The stories selected  are from a generation that grew up in decades of hardship but managed to adapt to an almost endless series of changes; a generation that contributed to the collapse of the old system, coped with the consequences of that collapse and invested all its energies in the building of a new one.  Furthermore, these authors in particular struggled and survived as representatives of a new, open society, in order to hold a mirror up to the city and the country they live in.”

Comma Press has kindly offered the book to all BGS members at a massively reduced price! £8 inc P&P. Please indicate your BGS membership.

Payment can be made by cheque to ‘Comma Press’ and posted to Studio 510a, Hope Mill, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester, UK M4 7JA. Or by BACS. Make payment to: Comma Press. Account holder: R K Page. Bank: Santander. Commercial Bank PLC. Branch address: Bridle Road, Bootle, Merseyside L30 4GB. Account number: 0 249 4817. Sort code: 090150. BIC: ABBYGB2LXXX

With many thanks to the Georgian Embassy for their kind hospitality, British Georgian Society is delighted to welcome back Peter Skinner, author of Georgia, The Land Below the Caucasus, to talk about his newly published Twenty five Years in the Caucasus by Arnold Zisserman

Georgian Embassy

Tuesday 20th February 

4 Russell Gardens, London W14 8EZ Doors open 6.30pm for 7.00pm start 

(Georgian wine will be served)

Zisserman’s Travels are a fabulous addition to the growing body of work about Georgia now available in English. Full of detail and insights into the culture, politics, ethnography and history of that fascinating country, enlivened with personal encounters and observations of life at all levels, this is essential reading for anyone with any interest in the Caucasus, Russian colonial expansion, and travel writing of the most immersive kind. Written with considerable narrative flair and wit, Zisserman’s account is especially valuable: an eye-witness to - and participant in - the Russian Conquest of the Caucasus, a Russian himself, still a teenager when he first arrived in Tbilisi as a lowly clerk, he was seized by the spirit of adventure. His book, written over his 25 years in the region, is filled with marvellous encounters and descriptions: of nobles & peasants, of soldiers and officials, of Russians and Georgians and as many tribes of mountain Tush, Khevsurs, Lesgians, Avars & Daghestanis, Chechens, Kists, Azeris and Tartars, as will delight the most demanding of ethnophiles.

The book has been fluently & vividly translated by Inna Kiziriya, and brilliantly organised & introduced by its editor, Peter Skinner, with the addition of many marvellous maps and illustrations and a plethora of fascinating appendices and notes: without doubt one of the most important, engaging and entertaining publications about Georgia to have appeared in many years. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to attend.

After graduating with a degree in Oriental Studies from Cambridge University in 2007, Joseph Alexander Smith pursued a brief career in Middle Eastern Studies Librarianship in London. A chance trip to Georgia in 2011 changed the course of his life, and he settled in Tbilisi in 2012. Through working as a multi-media journalist on environmental and cultural heritage issues, Joseph became involved in the flourishing urban activism scene in 2014-2015, particularly through the pedestrian-rights organisation Iare Pekhit. On the basis of this experience in civil activism, Joseph made a bid for a seat in Tbilisi's City Assembly in October 2017, becoming the first British-born Georgian citizen to run for elected office. Despite losing the election, Joseph has continued to be active on urban issues, hosting a weekly radio show specifically on urban development on Radio GIPA. 

A farewell party  ‘Tamada at Tamada’ for Mr. Kakhi Kenkadze, Minister Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Georgian Embassy to the UK

While performing the role of the Tamada (Toastmaster) Mr. Kenkadze will take us through the origin, value and format of the Tamada Institute. He will also perform Georgian songs and read his translation of some pieces of the British and Georgian poetry.  

The format: the Georgian Supra

Price: £25 per person including Georgian wine (wine provided from the BGS cellar) 

Location: Tamada, 122 Boundary Road, London NW8 0RH 

Time: 11th of January at 19.00.pm.  

RSVP by 9th January 2018 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tamta's World: The Life and Encounters of a Medieval Noblewoman From the Middle East to Mongolia

Friday 6th October 2017, 6.30pm, Research Forum,

Courtauld Institute of Art, Strand, WC2R 0RN

Tamta's World tells the compelling story of a Christian noblewoman in the thirteenth century. Born to an Armenian family at the court of Queen Tamar, Tamta was ransomed in marriage to nephews of Saladin, after her father was captured during a siege. Her tale stretches from the Mediterranean to Mongolia and reveals the extraordinary connections across continents and cultures that one woman could experience.

Anthony EastmondAntony Eastmond is A. G. Leventis Professor of Art History and Dean at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has published extensively on the world of eastern Christianity and its connections with the Islamic world around it, especially in Georgia and the Caucasus, and Trebizond. 

Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you wish to attend.

The 4th revised and expanded edition of Peter Nasmyth's classic book first published in 1998.

Peter Nasmyth is a writer, photographer and former arts journalist published in most major UK magazines and newspapers, along with American publications such as the Washington Post. He has lived between Tbilisi and London for the last thirty years and co-founded the first English-language bookshop, Prospero, in Tbilisi. He is currently involved in forming the National Trust in Georgia.


These events have already taken place.


Talk and Book Launch of 'Unveiling Vazha Pshavela' on 1 March 2019 @ Asia House

On 1 March 2018 Asia House, the BGS and the Embassy of Georgia to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will host a an evening of events inspired by the late 19th and early 20th century century Georgian poet Vazha Pshavela. This will a book launch of 'Unveiling Vazha Pshavela', poetry readings, talks and Georgian polyphonic singing. 'Unveiling Vazha Pshavela' is the most comprehensive book to date of the poet's works in English. The publication is initiated by Georgian/British artist Andro Semeiko as part of his project investigating notions of self and motherland - through landscape, ethnography, and language of Vazha Pshavela. The poems in the book have been selected to illustrate the poet's powerful, tragic, often Shakespearean force, as well as the development of his ideas and approach to nature, very relevant to ecological politics in the world today. They have been translated by Donald Rayfield OBE. The book includes specially commissioned works by the contemporary Georgian writer Ana Kordzaia-Samadashvili.

2018 Annual Rustaveli Day and AGM - 27th November 6pm at the Royal Asiatic Society

The BGS Rustaveli Day and Annual General Meeting will be held at 6pm on the 27th November 2018 at at the Royal Asiatic Society. The AGM will be followed by a talk 'The British-Georgian actress Miki Iveria – the story of Princess Gayane Mickeladze' by Dr Henry Sanford and a book presentation by Professor Elguja Khintibidze. The event will be followed by Georgian wine & canapes provided by Tamada Restaurant.

British Author Katie Ruth Davies New Book Set In Georgia

According to HE Tamar Beruchashvili Katie Ruth Davies "is a prominent author, journalist and supermum. She’s an expert in many things, including vampires!’’. Editor-in-Cheif of Georgia Today, Katie now lives in Georgia with her partner and 3 children. She is author of the Blood Omen books and is on a publishing tour of the UK (next week she will be in Bristol) promoting her first young adult book set in Georgia Angel (book one of the new Dark Wings series). Robert Edgar was at her London book launches at the Georgian Embassy and Primrose Hill Library and wrote in Georgia Today

Discovering Places: Georgia at Royal Geographical Society

The Royal Geographical Society is having an event on Georgia, on Wednesday 21st February 2018, 7pm - 9pm. It is part of their Discovering Places series and has an expert panel of Donald Rayfield (writer, historian and regular BGS speaker), Olia Hercules (chef and author of Kaukasis), and Marta Hills (a sustainable tourism expert and regular backpacker). Follow this link for further details.

Colour Of Pomegranates Limited Edition Blu-ray And Special Screening At ICA

Sergei Parajanov’s celebrated masterwork The Colour Of Pomegranates paints an astonishing portrait of the 18th century Armenian poet Sayat Nova, the ‘King of Song’ and now arrives on Blu-ray for the first time, presented in a stunning new restoration by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with the National Cinema Centre of Armenia and Gosfilmofond of Russia.

The film arrives as The Colour Of Pomegranates Limited Edition Box Set, a luxury two-disc collector’s set on Blu-ray complete with a 112-page perfect-bound book, a host of brand new special features, archive material, short film, documentaries and both the Armenian and Russian versions of the film. It arrives on 29 January 2018.

There will be a special screening of the film on January 27th at 4.15pm at the ICA, introduced by Daniel Bird.Please see the link here.

BBC Radio 4 Food Programme on Georgia

Two excellent programmes presented by Dan Saldino are available on BBC iPlayer Radio. Feast Like a Georgian: A Food Guide to the Caucasus., first broadcast on 4th September, features food writer Carla Capalbo, author of Tasting Georgia (published earlier this summer), guiding Dan through a supra. Zero Compromise: A (Georgian) Natural Wine Story., broadcast on 11th September, has Dan Saladino travelling into the Caucasus in search of "zero compromise" natural wine makers. He finds them in Georgia, thought to be the birthplace of wine, and home of the qvevri.

Armand Wang's photos of BGS events available on Facebook

Photographer Armand Wang, a BGS member, wonderfully captures the atmosphere at BGS events in his descriptive photos and regularly posts them on the BGS Facebook page. Here are links to recent events Conversation with the two Ambassadors and Second Annual Charity Festival hosted by Tamada

Cancellation of 12 June event at Pembroke College

On behalf of the British Georgian Society, the board would like to update you about this year's BGS Cambridge Seminar at Pembroke College. The event at Pembroke on Monday 12 June is now cancelled. The keynote speaker, Georgian Defence Minister Levon Izoria, had to call off his visit to the UK in mid June. We apologise for any inconvenience - and hope you will understand the organisers' decision in the circumstances to put the event off for a future occasion.

A Poet Is Born: Nikolaz Baratashvili 27th April 2017 Asia House

As the first month of spring slowly comes to an end, on Thursday 27th April, 18.45 at Asia House Donald Rayfield remembers Georgian poet Nikoloz Baratashvili  (1817-1845). On the occasion of his 200th birth anniversary, Donald Rayfield Emeritus Professor of Russian and Georgian at Queen Mary University of London will give a talk, A Poet Is Born: Nikolaz Baratashvili. For further information and tickets go to the Asia House website.

Read more ...

Direct Flights From London To Georgia

There have been recent announcements that various airlines will operate direct flights from London to Georgia. The Hungarian owned low cost Wizz Air will commence bi-weekly flights from Luton to Kutaisi from 18th June 2017. This will be followed by Georgian Airlines (Airzena) flying directly from Gatwick to Tbilisi, also twice a week. Start dates to be confirmed. There is also an article on the online outlet commersant.ge that Ryanair will also commence flights from London to Tbilisi.