Some information on this website may be out-of-date following the death of Queen Elizabeth.

The King visits Leighton House

Published 9 February 2023

The King has visited the newly-renovated museum Leighton House to hear about the artistic partnership with Turquoise Mountain, the charity founded by the then Prince of Wales to preserve and develop traditional craft practices across Afghanistan, Myanmar, and the Middle East

At Leighton House, the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Lord Leighton, The King viewed a suite of specially commissioned furniture by Turquoise Mountain, which has been handmade for the museum by Syrian and Jordanian artisans based in Amman, who His Majesty met while visiting the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 2021.

His Majesty heard about the intricate craftsmanship and design process behind the pieces, inspired by motifs found on a Syrian chest acquired by Lord Leighton during his travels.

The King also viewed the first piece of contemporary artwork commissioned by Leighton House; an 11 metre high mural, located in the museum’s Helical Staircase. The piece was inspired by a poem by the 13th century Persian poet Rumi, and explores the themes of unity and common humanity.

His Majesty met the Iranian artist of the mural, Shahrzad Ghaffari, as well as members of staff from Leighton House. In the Main Studio, His Majesty heard about Turquoise Mountain’s ongoing work in Afghanistan and Burma, and was shown a new work created by artisans across both regions.

To finished the visit, The King was shownt the centre piece of Leighton House - the Arab Hall - which features a renowned collection of Islamic tiles and mosaic floors.

Turquoise Mountain

Turquoise Mountain was founded in 2006 by the then Prince of Wales, to revive historic areas and traditional crafts, to provide jobs, skills and a renewed sense of pride. The King most recently saw first-hand the work of Turquoise Mountain during a visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 2021.

Since 2006, Turquoise Mountain has restored over 150 historic buildings, trained many thousands of artisans and builders, treated over 165,000 patients at their Kabul clinic, and supported and generated over $17 million in sales of traditional crafts to international clients.

Turquoise Mountain has also curated major international exhibitions at museums around the world, from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. Turquoise Mountain has now built over 50 small businesses in Afghanistan, Myanmar, and the Middle East, supporting a new generation of artisan entrepreneurs who will not only drive economic development, but also preserve their unique cultures and traditions.

Leighton House

Leighton House is the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). It is unique among the capital’s museums in combining an exceptional collection of Victorian art with the intimacy of a private home.

The house was designed by his great friend, the architect George Aitchison, as a showcase for artistic taste and to entertain and impress the foremost artists, collectors and celebrities of the day. Leighton House’s Arab Hall reflects Leighton’s fascination with the Middle East and presents an extraordinary collection of Islamic tiles and mosaic floors.

The museum is operated by Kensington and Chelsea Council and has recently completed a major redevelopment which has provided additional gallery space, a new café and a dedicated learning centre. The project has been funded by the Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Friends of Leighton House.