Exhibition: Come and take a magic carpet ride

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Tales From the Arabian Nights - a Victorian Fantasy

Leighton House, London

Enter Leighton House and find an Eastern world - Persian tiles, filigreed wooden screens, stained-glass windows and a central fountain carved from a single slab of black marble are manifestations of Lord Leighton's exotic visions of the East. The exhibition explores the attraction of this fictitious world of genies, magical palaces and flying carpets, peopled by grand Sultans, beautiful Princesses, thieves and vagabonds.

Tales From the Arabian Nights covers heroic epics to eroticism, devotional tales to lyric poetry and chronicles of low life. Translated from a collection of stories written in Arabic, it emphasises the importance of story telling through the central character of a king who killed his wives successively until he married Scheherazade, who saved her life by the tales she told him.

The Winter Studio of Leighton House will be transformed into an Aladdin's cave, draped in material that imitates the landscapes of the East. It will also feature Eastern paraphernalia from Victorian times like 19th- century dolls in costume, Toy Theatres, illustrations from children's books and theatrical ephemera featuring Victorian pantomime. It is a colourful contrast to the moral extremes and austerity which characterise the popular view of Victorian culture.

Aside from fiction there will be topographical views of the East by the hand of Lord Leighton himself and paintings by Pre-Raphaelite painters, Holman Hunt and Rossetti. Make three wishes, grab your flying carpet and say "Shazam Caban" - or else take the tube to another land.

Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, London W14 8LZ. Admission Free. Telephone: 0171-602 3316.

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