Past Exhibitions


A Victorian Obsession. The Pérez Simón Collection at Leighton House Museum

Thursday 14 November 2014 - Monday 6 April 2015

Visit the exhibition website 


From Jamaica to Notting Hill, Rudi Patterson's Visions in Colour

Thursday 4 April - Wednesday 11 June 2014


Rudi Patterson Painting


For over forty years, following a career as an international model and actor, Rudi Patterson  dedicated himself to painting.  From the three successive council flats he lived in around Notting Hill he produced a vast body of work, exhibiting widely in London , the UK and internationally – from New York to Melbourne  - throughout the  1970s, 80s and 90s.  Following his death last year, this exhibition explores a single theme; Rudi’s extraordinarily potent and vivid representations of his native Jamaica.  Including many works never previously exhibited, these depictions of montane landscapes, plantation villages, luxuriant tropical vegetation, rivers and beaches conjure a compelling sense of place, intuitively made from the vantage point of a West London window. 


'I'm a Jamaican, I love my island and its beauty."


Rudi Patterson was also a proud Londoner and Briton. His vivid portrayals of home were mostly created from three small painting-bedecked flats in Kensington and Chelsea. At the time of his death in July 2013, almost all the pictures in this exhibition were in his flat next to Trellick Tower.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Pasque and Iris - Rudi Patterson

Rudi was born in September 1933 in the sugar plantation village of Duckenfield, St. Thomas, in the lea of the Blue Mountains, lush and tropical, where rain comes suddenly and often. After studying in Kingston, in the late Fifties he set off to London to become an actor. He took classes at RADA and through the Swinging Sixties and into the Seventies he was frequently on stage and celluloid. He acted in such classics as Z Cars, The Professionals and the Rolling Stones film Sympathy For The Devil. His modelling success was unprecedented for a black man in that era: British Airways, Mr Fish, a big jeans campaign. Appearances in repertory and West End theatre included the ground breaking gay-themed The Boys In The Band and in 1977 the world premiere of Michael Tippett’s The Ice Break at Covent Garden.


Entirely self-taught, he began to draw and paint in 1969 and incessantly so during months of convalescence after breaking his neck water skiing in 1973. Over four decades he created around 1000 pictures as well as hundreds of ceramic pieces, delicately glazed pots, sculptures and platters. He painted in gouache,watercolour, acrylic and oil. In later years he produced colour-drenched abstracts and still lifes. When wracked by back pain he created vivid linear works. Rudi was involved in some 40 exhibitions including one man shows on four continents encompassing London, Manchester, Jamaica and even Australia.


London allowed his creative juices to flow. He was at home in every milieu the city could offer; aristocratic, thespian, bohemian – a keen gallery goer and cultural activist. He witnessed both London’s decline and ascent, participating in its evolution from imperium to diversity. He loved the Notting Hill of market, Carnival and Absolute Beginners and lived through riots, Rachman and meterosexuality as his generation changed post-war Britain.


Rudi Patterson the Model

Rudi modellling


"I'm inspired by natural beauty and harmony, I love to paint."


A Jamaican, even the city dweller or diaspora member, finds his or her story in landscape. This exhibition is filled with sonorous landscapes - montane, agricultural, domestic, peopled. Through these everyday and yet unfamiliar scenes, laden with cultural and social references, Rudi Patterson’s visions of colour open the gates of memory, addressing his people’s story.


Jamaican society was created despite displacement and noted for its defiance, its irieness”.What you see in these paintings is not as edenistic or arcadian as it seems. Rudi’s remembrances are seldom singular in their meaning. For those unfamiliar with island life, the depiction of an orange or mango harvest can be appreciated simply for the intricate representation of the fruit laden branches or vibrant use of palette and tone. The cleverly skewed perspectives, the ripeness of the fruit, the solidity of the mountains are all evidence of the artist’s skill.



But if the garden is so magical why are the people often looking away? In a Patterson painting the many rivers to cross are not metaphorical; most Jamaican kids of his era had the chore of journeying to the river every day for water. Colonial, Depression and wartime era Duckenfield was tough. Crops are not for decoration but sustenance. Most dwellings are small. Order is disrupted by hurricanes. Nature’s colours clash.


Slavery was instituted to grow plants with ruthless efficiency and was a not so distant memory in Rudi’s youth. But it was the very abundance of indigenous species cultivated in the rich red soil; the endless varieties of fruit and vegetables such as mangoes, ackee, breadfruit, cocoa - perhaps 40 in a small back garden plantation - that enabled Jamaicans and other West Indians to emancipate themselves from physical and mental slavery and to become, like Rudi, creators in new and old worlds.


Duckenfield Rudi PattersonAs his contemporary Bob Marley wrote in Redemption Song:

But my hand was made strong

By the ‘and of the Almighty.

We forward in this generation



"Intuitive”was the term he used. These powerful images came into his head like the duppies (Jamaican for ghosts) he remembered from childhood evenings walking down unlit lanes. The took weeks of work – perhaps assisted by an image from a book of historic plantation houses, a potted tropical plant or a trailing purple Tradescantia pallida in the window.


The Intuitive frees him from rules, and transports us to his visual universe. These pictures

represent the New World, but a world inextricably yoked for centuries to Western classicism. There are whiffs of Impressionism, Rousseau, Lowry, Fauvist colours. Patterson presents a uniquely recognisable painterly style. He manifests memories of lush orchards, the beauty of hibiscus, the powerful wind tilting the palms, the engulfing heat of bush fires and recreates his heritage within the four walls of a Notting Hill concrete high rise.


Rudi Patterson Painting

Rudi working from home


Exhibition texts written by Wesley Kerr and Novelette-Aldoni Stewart, co-curators of the exhibition.


To download the original exhibition text:

Rudi Patterson: From Jamaica to Notting Hill [PDF] (file size 870Kb)

Rudi Patterson: Painting Visions in Colour [PDF] (file size 788Kb)



Ferozkoh banner


In 2012, Afghan master craftsmen were given access to some of the greatest examples of Islamic art in the world at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.

 In response, they created a series of extraordinary works of their own.

The result is Ferozkoh – 18 pairs of beautiful objects, half historic and half contemporary, that reveal how the art of the past can inspire the future.


Leighton House Museum is the venue for the stunning exhibition Ferozkoh: Tradition and Continuity in Afghan Art, presented by the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Doha, as part of Nour and Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture.


Ferozkoh is the result of a collaboration between the MIA in Doha, Qatar with students and teachers from Turquoise Mountain Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture in Kabul, Afghanistan. The unifying ambition of the exhibition is the preservation and continuity of theFerozkoh Exhibits traditional arts of the Islamic world – in both themes and materials – in the present day, and the role of education in both transmission and translation.


Ferozkoh comprises 18 pairs of objects. Half are historical objects from MIA’s collection; the products of four great dynasties with connections to Afghanistan: the Ghaznavids, Timurids, Mughals and Safavids. The other half of the works were created specifically for the exhibition by Turquoise Mountain students in response to, and in conversation with, the historical objects.


The exhibition runs from 15 November 2013 until 23 February 2014.

Leighton House Museum is open every day except Tuesday from 10.00 - 5.30pm.

The cost is £5.00 full price and £3.00 concessions.

Free for Art Fund, ICOM and half price for National Trust members.

Find out more about  Ferozkoh  by downloading our exhibition booklet [PDF] (warning: large file size 2.29Mb).


The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of workshops and activities. All events are free of charge. Please book by visiting our website:

Click here to find out more about our events


Hurriyah: Connecting calligraphy and dance through animation

5 - 31 October 2013

Soraya Syed, London based calligraphic artist and director of Art of the Pen (, is for the first time to exhibit Hurriyah, meaning freedom, a pioneering installation which explores how Arabic calligraphy can complement the world of dance through animation.

The idea behind this exhibition is to experiment with the universally aspiring emotion as well as the emblematic form of the word freedom and is a unique exploration into the world of dance and calligraphy.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of workshops and activities.

Visit Nour Festival of Arts.



Hurriyah - Dance Commission by Salah El Brogy

Sunday 20 October

2pm, 3pm and 4pm

Free with entry price to Leighton House Museum
Tickets • £5 | £3 (concessions under 16s and over 60s)

Acclaimed Egyptian dancer/choreographer Salah El Brogy responds to Soraya Syed’s Hurriyah exhibition with a solo performance, created especially for the spaces of Leighton House. Physically expressing the concept and animation of Hurriyah, Salah always aspires to go beyond what he does, to make a difference and create his own new way in dance, music and theatre. Each performance lasts around ten minutes and will take place in the intimacy of the main gallery at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm, which is followed by an artist's talk.

Hailing from Egypt, dancer and choreographer, Salah is accomplished in many dance forms. In 2008, he received the Best Dancer Award from Egypt’s French Cultural Centre and a year later, choreographed, performed and toured his solo show Adrenalin, before joining Akram Khan Company as lead dancer for Vertical Road in 2010. This year, he opened Salah El Brogy Dance Company. For more information about Salah, please go to Salah El Brogy's space on

Hurriyah Dancer

Photography: Roswitha Chesh


3 - 30 October 2013

This exhibition inaugurates the 2013 Nour Festival of Arts from the Middle East and North Africa at Leighton House Museum and is the London debut of Mourad Salem, a Tunisian artist based in Paris. Salem has selected eight recent paintings that will be exhibited in the exquisite Drawing Room of Leighton House.

Having Tunisian, Turkish and Ottoman roots, Salem questions the Arab world’s leaders of yesteryear, which he often portrays as figures of fun. His funky and kitsch Sultans and Sultanas are painted on canvas surrounded with fake fur, ostrich feathers, costume jewellery, floral accessories or elaborate frames, emphasising their immaturity as figures of power, although they are portrayed with some affection.

History has shown that for the most part, these were leaders who did not lead; men in power who abused their power or used religion as a tool for power. Salem’s work hints that old times may be coming back; that there are now leaders who continue to ignore the demands of the public and the requirements of our times.

In his smaller format works, Disney characters pop up in the borders – a faceless Sultan might be surrounded by Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck as a humorous comment on the character of tyranny. When there are no facial features, we become the reflection of that face, suggesting that anyone can become a despot. As Salem says, “Despotism is faceless, death is faceless and so is life, for each of us puts their own face on their life and death.”

Salem also finds similarities between old and new tyrants, especially in their love of “bling” and power. Former potentates and presidents-for-life have their own vision of taste, and the artist wants to symbolise this feeling of a fake life and shabby wealth and blow the minutiae of a dictator’s life out of proportion.

Ultimately, Salem’s work is about the interconnectedness of periods, styles, regions, and how intercultural and intergenerational exchanges can take place. Through his paintings he hints at bigotry and prejudice in order to invite reflection.  

Image from exhibition


The Fabric of Life

7 June - 22 September

Essie Sakhai is one of Europe’s foremost experts on Persian rugs and carpets. Born in Iran to a family with a long history of dealing in carpets, he established Essie Carpets in Piccadilly, London, carrying on the family tradition started in the 18th century. His carpets have been bought by collectors all over the world and Essie has written extensively on their history and significance as works of art. For the first time, this exhibition brings together some of the most rare and beautiful examples from Essie’s collection. These will be displayed throughout the spectacular interiors at Leighton House evoking the appearance of the house in Frederic Leighton’s time and giving a unique opportunity to view these wonderful carpets and rugs in an unforgettable setting.


Essie Carpets


Studio Sittings:  Photographing Royal Academicians

Anne Purkiss

15 March - 2 June

What remains unchanged over a period of more than 150 years is the fascination of photographers, art lovers and collectors with images of artists and their creative spaces. We still see these pictures as a record and one possible key to understanding the artist, the creative process, and the social environment in which they lived. Anne Purkiss, 2013.

For over 25 years, portrait photographer Anne Purkiss has been taking pictures of Royal Academicians.  Often posed in their studios, these images are a unique record of some of the most celebrated artists of recent times.  From Dame Elisabeth Frink, to Sir Peter Blake and Sir Anthony Caro the images provide a telling insight into the artist’s working environment and their creative spaces.

Frederic Leighton’s own career was bound up with the Royal Academy.  Elected an Associate in 1864, he became President in 1878.  His era saw the emergence of the celebrity artist; whose image was widely photographed, published and collected.  Studio Sittings includes photographs of Leighton and his RA contemporaries also posed in their studios allowing a fascinating dialogue to emerge.


Sir Peter Blake



Wrestling Pythons

Sculpture by Julian Wild

Friday 1 February - Sunday 3 March

From 2009-2012 Julian Wild was recipient of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea/Chelsea Arts Club Trust Studio Bursary. The bursary provided Julian with a purpose built studio in the borough. For this exhibition Julian will be showing works made during the residency. These works will be presented throughout the house. 

The title of the exhibition 'Wrestling Pythons' is taken from Leighton's most famous sculpture 'Athlete Wrestling with a Python'. Many of the works in Wild's exhibition are inspired by the serpentine forms in Leighton's sculpture. The seductive surfaces of Wild's sculptures reference the decorative processes used inside the house. At the same time the title of the exhibition 'wrestling pythons' is a metaphor for the difficult task of making and installing work in such a historically and visually rich place. 

Julian Wild (b. 1973) studied at Kingston University. He has held solo exhibitions at Modern Art Oxford, Maddox Arts, Burghley House in Lincolnshire and Bishops Square, Spitalfields. 

He has also been commissioned to make public sculptures for: The Cass Sculpture Foundation, Crest Nicholson, Wyeth Europa, Fidelity, Schroders Investment Management, Radley College Oxford and The Jerwood Sculpture Park and Sculpture in the Parklands in Ireland.

In 2005 Wild was short listed for the Jerwood Sculpture Prize and won the Millfield sculpture Prize in the same year. In 2010 he was a finalist for the national art prize at the Saatchi Gallery and was short listed for The HTC art award. He was recently nominated for a Bryan Robertson Trust Award. 

For more information please visit


Free exhibition tour: Sunday 3 March, 1.00 - 2.00pm.



Setting the SceneSetting the Scene

Charlie Cobb

Wednesday 12 December  - Monday 14 January

'Colonel of the Royal Academy and the President of the Artists Rifles - aye, and he paints a little!'  James Whistler describing Frederic Leighton

Despite his public status Frederic Leighton, artist and president of the Royal Academy until his death in 1896, was an intensely private man.  This contradiction is personified in the villa he built for himself in Holland Park, with grand social spaces juxtaposed with modest living quarters. 

The Studio is perhaps where the public and private collide - on the one hand used for musical concerts and social events and on the other for the solitary business of painting.  The architecture of the space has an innately theatrical feel - the dramatic north window, a proscenium-like screen at one end, and a single square window at the other, like a peephole into this unexpected world.

This interior setting Leighton created for himself mirrors his process of painting.  Just as he collected cultural artefacts:  Syrian tiles, classical sculpture and European painting and set them within the house, so too did he make studies from nature and life which were organised and placed into carefully composed paintings. 

The work in this exhibition explores the tensions between inside and outside, light and dark and public and private.  Behind the facade of this constructed and ordered world, nature encroaches and the sense of permanence and order is perhaps no more than an illusion.

For more information please visit


Bradley‘Kütmaan’: Exploring the realities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT ) lives and culture in the Middle East

Bradley Secker

Monday 5 - Friday 30 November

‘Kütmaan’ is the Arabic for the act of hiding or concealing. This exhibition forms part of a five-year photographic project documenting the realities of life for some LGBT individuals in the Middle East between 2010 and 2012. The images in this exhibition tell diverse personal stories and relate the experiences of those LGBT people who are forced to claim asylum based on their sexuality or gender identity. The exhibition highlights the circumstances of gay Iraqi men who have since 2010 been forced to leave their homes due to homophobia and seek asylum in Syria and who are then displaced or resettled into Turkey. The exhibition also explores LGBT Kurdish identity in south eastern Turkey and documents how these communities are seeking legal equality and acceptance.

Other important themes considered include the prolonged wait of Iranian LGBT refugees in central Anatolia before their resettlement in Europe or North America.

Bradley Secker is a British photojournalist and documentary photographer who works around themes of identity and human rights. His work has been published widely in TIME Magazine, the New York Times and The Guardian amongst others. He is currently based in Istanbul.



Dia Batal

Monday 5 - Friday 30 November

Dia Batal will be installing pieces from her Translations collection throughout Leighton House, responding to the context of the space and building on Leighton’s own collection of objects from the Arab World. In Translations Batal borrows from the traditional Arab art of working with text to create pieces that tell a story. These objects use possible transformations of the text and the corresponding shifts in meaning to relate to the space that the object occupies, and the function of the object itself.

Visit the Mourning Hall

A reinterpretation of the 'Arab Hall'. This work is a response to the lack of mourning spaces in Syria in the light of the current uprising. It is informed by some of the spatial, visual and collective practices that have emerged at this absence.  

Dia Batal is a spatial designer based in London. Her work is context specific and designed for physical interaction. Batal creates objects that function as devices to impact people’s lives in public and private spaces, in relation to social, cultural, and political concerns. Her recent projects Translations and Cart-og-ra-phy, have been exhibited in art galleries in Beirut, Manama, Paris, and in London and Liverpool.


Nuclear Nuqta   Nour Festival of Arts - Contemporary Art, Design, Film, Music and Literature from the Middle East and North Africa

Nuclear Nuqta - The Fission of Islamic Art from the Classical to the Contemporary

Muiz Anwar

Wednesday 3 October - Monday 29 October

 Nuclear Nuqta is Muiz’s debut solo-exhibition in the United Kingdom. Leighton House will be hosting a selection of Muiz’s work, whose characteristic exploration of the Arab and Muslim identity and how they are informed by culture, language, geography and politics has become even more relevant in the post-9/11, revolutionary era. By reclaiming, both visually and literally, language that has been redefined by political and media interests, Muiz seeks to provide a platform to re-examine the misconceptions and stereotypes that have fractured and provoked communities into conflict and what denotes their individual or collective identities.

This existential artistry is underpinned by his signature evolution of classical Islamic and Arabic art principles and philosophies into a striking, contemporary aesthetic. His work ultimately asks challenging questions of us exemplified by our reactions to the work; highlighting the potential [and importance] of a minority’s perception of truth to resonate and impact the majority.

"All art is political - because those that create art are governed by it."

Muiz is a visual communicator whose innovations in Arabic aesthetics have won him recognition by some of the world’s most iconic designers. His work evolves an experimental visual language born from the principles of classical Islamic art and philosophies which reflect the complex, cultural semiotics and geopolitics of the modern Arab world.

Muiz has launched a critically acclaimed magazine, branded national and international arts organisations and festivals and been recognised in digital and print journals across the globe.


MariamneVictorian Visions

Pre-Raphaelite and Nineteenth-Century Art from the John Schaeffer Collection

Thursday 26 April - Sunday 23 September

Over the past 25 years John Schaeffer has been one of the world’s most prominent collectors of British nineteenth-century art. For the first time in the UK, a selection of the key works from his collection will be shown at Leighton House. Included are exceptional works by Leighton himself (the colour sketch for his celebrated Flaming June) and by his contemporaries including John William Waterhouse, William Holman Hunt, G.F. Watts and Solomon J Solomon. The collection will be displayed throughout the historic interiors of the house; an unmissable experience for anyone interested in Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art.

Painting: John William Waterhouse, Mariamne, 1887, Oil on Canvas (259 x 180 cm).




Ancient Contests: Modern Heroes

James Childs

Thursday 26 July - Sunday 9 September
To celebrate the Olympic Games, the American artist James Childs will be exhibiting the large frieze that he painted for the Athens Olympics in the Winter Studio at Leighton House. Depicting the different sports of the ancient Olympics, James made drawings from members of the American Olympic team to create the work. James is a passionate admirer of Leighton and has studied the technical aspects of his work for many years. He has had a long association with Leighton House, exhibiting his work here in the past and he was the museum’s first artist in residence.

James Childs

Open daily except Tuesdays
10am - 5.30pm
12 Holland Park Road
London W14 8LZ