Sublime Symmetry

Famed for richly coloured, lustrous glazed tiles and pottery with birds and dragon decoration, De Morgan’s work is beautiful and iconic. But, behind the fantastical beasts which wrap themselves around De Morgan’s vases and the fanciful flora which meanders across his tiles, there is a rigorously planned mathematical structure. Sublime Symmetry: De Morgan Ceramics uncovers the pattern, shape and symmetry in De Morgan’s designs.

This visually stunning exhibition showcases collection of around 70 ceramic objects on loan from The De Morgan Foundation.

It includes an exploration of De Morgan’s career and the influence of William Morris on his early work, as well as how Islamic Art and De Morgan’s rediscovery of lustre, a thousand years after it was first used by potters in the Middle East, shaped his art.

De Morgan’s unique experiments with glazes once caused a house fire in his rented London home when he used the fireplace as a makeshift kiln. His comprehension of mathematics and ability to manipulate his designs to adhere to precise geometric rules, as well as his understanding of elements and glaze, enabled him to make the sublime symmetrical patterns featured in the exhibition.

In 1859 De Morgan was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools and had a classical art training. He met William Morris in 1863 and began designing stained glass for him before setting up his own business in 1872. From 1877 – 1881 he installed Sir Frederic Leighton’s Middle Eastern tiles in the Arab Hall at his home in London, which sparked his interest in these complex geometric designs and inspired his future work. Over the years his interests, abilities and experimentations with pottery developed and he created more figurative and ambitious pieces.

If you enjoy this exhibition we’re asking you to pay what you think is appropriate, to support our museums and art galleries.

 

Caption: Vase with cover, William De Morgan, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Further information:
  • Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10.00 am – 6.00 pm; closed Mondays
  • Free entry
  • Location Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight Village, Wirral CH62 5EQ
  • Getting there: By Car: if you are travelling from Liverpool, use the Birkenhead (Queensway) tunnel. From elsewhere, leave the M53 at junction 4 and follow the signs for Port Sunlight village; By Bus: 464 bus to Bebington Road (from Sir Thomas St in Liverpool) 38 bus to Bebington rail station (runs between Clatterbridge Hospital and West Kirby station). For more information please call 0151 478 4136

https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/lady-lever-art-gallery