Katie Melua, the singer, songwriter and musician, visited the conservation project at Vardzia this week. Georgian-born, Katie moved to the UK at the age of eight, and has been a strong supporter of the Vardzia project since the planning stages in 2011.

Begun in 2012, this four-year collaborative project with the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia and the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts is researching and conserving the magnificent wall paintings dating from 1184-86 in the rock-cut monastery of Vardzia in southern Georgia. Featuring a wide range of subjects including an iconic image of Queen Tamar, they are of an extraordinary technical sophistication, but also in alarming condition.

The delicate conservation process, generously supported by the Jackson Foundation in the UK, builds on more than 15 years of collaboration with Georgian colleagues in the conservation field, and includes intensive training of Academy and Courtauld graduates and students. 

Guided on her visit by Merab Bochoidze, Director of the National Agency, and Nana Kuprashvili of the State Academy, Katie watched the meticulous work in progress and discussed all aspects with the team.


Katie was delighted by this important collaboration between Georgia and the UK. She said:

‘My impressions were wonderful of the whole project and team. I felt a huge amount of respect for the approach of great care and minimal intervention being taken with these fabulous paintings. I am very proud and happy to be involved in helping this great collaboration.’