Georgia

In 1971, Ken received The Telegraph Magazine ‘Young Photographer of the Year Award’ He choose Tbilisi, Georgia which was then behind the Iron Curtain, as his assignment for the magazine.

The Daily Telegraph Magazine

March, 1973

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"Kenn Griffiths and Gillian Keightley travelled through Russia recently. Their visit to Georgia highlighted its anomalies.

[…] Hospitality is almost compulsive. One night as some friends saw us off to bed after an unusually heavy bout of toasting, we discovered that the water supply had been cut off at the hotel. So they ordered bottles of mineral water for us to wash in. Next morning, three bottles of champagne, some brandy and a tray of food arrived, together with one of the people from the night before who had decided to have breakfast with us. […] If we ever took a taxi, the drivers never let us pay because we were English. The state agency is a lot less bashful. We were charged £12 a night for the cheapest double room at the cheapest double room at the hotel - a weird 19th-century place in which severely practical carpets and cheap furnishings contrasted with flourishes of former grandeur in marble columns and 30 foot high painted ceilings full of cherubs and clouds and bunches of grapes. Although Georgia seems a tourists paradise, to try and do a reporting job there is quite another matter. Before we left, Georgian friends in London said “Don’t worry, you’ll be told that you can’t do this and can’t do that, but once you get there you’ll find that you can.” It was quite the opposite. We were given permission to take whatever picture we wanted in public places and, if people allowed, in their homes too, and were handed a piece of paper in Russian and Georgian to this effect. But after a week, the police suddenly grabbed us, went through all our belongings, our notes and diaries, and took all our exposed film and developed it, ruining the colour pictures. Then the polaroid colour stock we had at the hotel simply disappeared […] while our companions simply disappeared […] If we made appointments at our hotel with people we had got to know, they never turned up."