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Professionals restoring 1970s bus stop mosaic in east Georgia
05 January, 2022

A foundation working on preserving mosaics in Georgia has completed the first stage of its project on safeguarding and restoring a 1970s-created composition found on a wall of a defunct bus stop in the country's east.

One of hundreds of Soviet-period mosaics found adorning places ranging from residential blocks to monuments and infrastructure across the country, the colourful wall is the highlight of the former bus stop in the Dusheti Municipality village of Tsikhisdziri, found about 65km north of capital Tbilisi.

Created by architect Giorgi Chakhava and artist Zurab Kapanadze, the bus stop has been described as a "visible example of the unique mosaic technology" used though the latter decades of the Soviet Union, and in Georgia in particular.

It has been under restoration work by Ribirabo Foundation since late 2020, with the organisation launching a crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds for completing the first phase of works that involved professionals with "unique technology" required for the task.

The foundation, which works to "study, restore and preserve" mosaic works in Georgia - created both during the Soviet years and further back in history - revealed on the weekend it had successfully completed the first stage.

Originally in "poor condition" due to decades of neglect following the dissolution of the USSR and the political and economic turmoil that followed it in the 1990s, its restoration posed a challenge due to a lack of knowledge on a technology used in its creation.

Professionals involved in the project studied the mosaic tiles used for the composition to produce new pieces for the restoration. Photo via Ribirabo Foundation.

Ribirabo Foundation called the original method utilised to create the mosaic wall a "Georgian national brand", adding the know-how had been lost from public knowledge in the same decades of hardship, driving the composition to the "edge of destruction".

Still possessed by the organisation's professionals, the expertise on the wall work was used in the first stage of the restoration work, financed both from donations and purchases of merchandise produced by the foundation and featuring patterns of mosaics found in Georgia.

Beside the fundraising effort, the restoration project was supported by a culture ministry grant for "free projects in the culture sector", one of a range of grant competitions announced by the culture body in 2021.

Photo via Ribirabo Foundation

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