Holidaying in a Georgian mining town is better than you think

15 February 2019
Text: Liza Premiyak
Image: Nestan Abdushelishvili

What were your holidays like as a kid? Whether your childhood trips were spent making sandcastles by the sea or visiting your grandparents in the countryside, the summers between school will certainly be some of your most enduring memories. But maybe your summers didn’t involve leaving home at all, rather pitching a tent in your backyard or messing around by the paddling pool. This is the carefree scene captured by photographer Nestan Abdushelishvili in Tkibuli, a small mining town in central Georgia.

“After finishing my MA in Photography in Madrid, I decided to take a journey to different parts of Georgia,” the Tbilisi-based photographer recalls about her summer last year. Tkibuli, in the Imereti region, was a city she’d heard about many times before but never been to. It’s a place known for its coal mining industry and is spoken about only in the context of mining accidents and dangerous working conditions.

“During my time there, there was a neighbourhood which drew my attention. It was summer and kids were playing between the apartment blocks. I noticed they were building their own holiday getaways in their backyards,” says Abdushelishvili. The photographer dedicated her series Self Organised Holidays to the children and their boundless imaginations.

Perhaps this is not exactly the image you’d expect when you think of “holidays” and “Georgia”: we’ve often lauded Georgia as an unmissable destination for breathtaking roadtrips, delicious wine, and famous techno parties. But sometimes, the best holidays of all are those with bare feet on hot pavement and plenty of laughter.

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