Art Villa Garikula, a central Georgian hub for local and visiting artists, is being renovated to regain its trademark sight and preserve its status as a site of cultural importance.
It is now subject of a newly launched initiative involving support from the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia and TBC Bank.
Painter Karaman Kutateladze (centre) transformed the neglected chateau into a residence for an art commune in 2000:
The project involves renovation of the villa’s belfry, its most recognisable architectural element that has fallen into a state of disrepair over the venue’s turbulent history.
Tbilisi-based Polish engineer Vasili Bolgarsky built the chateau in 1885 as a summer residence and central part of his estate.
Known among the locals as the Bolgarsky Mansion, the estate included a farm with a wine cellar, grape press and qvevri wine storage vessels, which are still functional.
The estate also featured facilities for cold storage and production of canned food.
The belfry tower, the most recognisable part of the building, remained in disrepair until the current renovation effort. Photo: Art Villa Garikula.
Bolgarsky’s property became a target for the Bolshevik authorities following the Soviet annexation of Georgia in 1921.
The farm and production means was taken away from the entrepreneur, with the estate initially used as a state school venue.
The villa was briefly handed to Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, before the neglected building was used as a hay storage by local farmers.
The contemporary story of Art Villa Garikula began in 2000, when Georgian painter Karaman Kutateladze’s initiative saw the chateau turned into an art commune.
With volunteering effort from Academy of Arts students as well as local and foreign architects the estate was brought back in shape and had its main building restored.
The chateau was built by engineer and entrepreneur Vasili Bolgarsky in 1885. Photo: Art Villa Garikula.
The belfry construction of the building, used by Bolgarsky as a lighthouse for special occasions, remained in disrepair however.
The latest renovation effort includes plans for returning its ceremonial function to the towering construction.
Works already ongoing at the place include reinforcement of the rotunda circular base of the belfry as well as renovating its floor and balustered handrail.
Authors of the renovation effort hope the results of the work will give further appeal to the villa that hosts local and visiting artists who stay at the venue while working on their projects.
The villa is also the venue for the annual Fest I Nova festival, dedicated to Brothers Kirill and Ilia Zdanevich, two of the 20th century Georgia’s prominent avant-garde artists.