Liam Bailey, Gabriel Chubinidze’s private collection

Liam Bailey: I found myself, early September 1991,  In Tbilisi, to cover the inaugural International Juggling Convention. I had been given the ticket to capture this unusual event for the Guardian Newspaper in the UK.


It was my first overseas commission, and as a cub photojournalist I was looking to create a story that would grab the attention of the then Picture Editor of note, Eamonn McCabe. Rooming with a local family, and not understanding local drinking customs, I left their apartment each morning jacked up on ice-cold vodka and weighed down by stone-solid cheese bread. I felt like I was so privileged to have access to the city at that time, I shot lots of black and white images of jugglers and the area around the convention, but the real story was the Tbilisi residents – most just living their lives, but many protesting, resisting and on hunger strikes on the streets. Political tensions quickly mounted and a state of emergency was declared. After an unscheduled second week in Tbilisi, I finally managed to share the flight home with sheep and melons and the remnants of the juggling convention. For years I didn’t look at this work, I had not impressed the editor, he had wanted more of the Juggling! and therefore the work did not get the exposure I had hoped for. It was during Covid that I returned to the images and realised  that this was a cultural archive that needed to be returned to the people of Georgia, who had been so generous in my first visit. I also realised it had the same effect ion a fellow visitor at that time, a friend Jeremy Tyman had written a text around this time and our shared experiences. Connecting with Dina on Linked-In opened the door, and finally the pictures, memories and stories can return.


Gabriel Chubinidze is a researcher of the history of modern Georgia, who bought dozens of film negatives at the second-hand market last year. Later, it was found out that the armed conflict of 1991-1992 in Tbilisi was reflected on the negatives. As a result of the collection of these and other unpublished photos found by him in different families, Georgia of 1986-1992 will be presented at the exhibition. Turbulent period - full of hopes, changes, victories, defeats and tragedies.