New National Touring Exhibition for 2016 heads to Towneley Hall
The De Morgan Foundation announces a new national touring exhibition for 2016 Sublime Symmetry: The mathematics behind William De Morgan’s ceramic designs
The Sublime Symmetry exhibition showcases the work of William De Morgan, the celebrated Victorian Arts and Crafts designer. The exhibition presents over 80 magnificent works, including ceramics from the De Morgan Collection and his designs on paper on loan from the V&A. The pieces have all been chosen to demonstrate the mathematical concepts which are the basis for his beautiful and colourful ceramic designs.
The exhibition will be showcased at Towneley Hall, Burnley Lancashire March to June 2016.
Children and whole families will be able to explore the patterns, shapes and symmetry in De Morgan’s elaborately decorated tiles and pots. Making learning maths fun, there will be interactive games and a family trail that can be enjoyed by budding mathematicians young and old. The exhibition is supported by an exciting schools programme and teacher information pack aimed at Key Stage 2.
Entry to the family friendly exhibition is either free or included within the standard admission price at each venue.
The De Morgan Foundation is grateful to the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, the London Mathematical Society and The Art Fund: Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grant, who have made the touring exhibition possible with their generous support.
The De Morgan Collection and the De Morgan Foundation
The De Morgan Collection is an unparalleled collection of work by Arts and Crafts ceramicist William De Morgan and his artist wife Evelyn Pickering De Morgan. They were both highly esteemed in their fields. The De Morgan Collection was formed by William De Morgan’s sister-in-law, Mrs Wilhelmina Stirling, who provided public access to the works at her home, Old Battersea House in London. After her death in 1965, the De Morgan Foundation was established to care for the collection. The Foundation’s drawing and manuscripts archive can be viewed by appointment and access to the De Morgan Collection is provided through a programme of national and international exhibitions and loans.
William De Morgan
William De Morgan is considered to be the most important ceramicist of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He began his artistic career working alongside William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones before opening his own pottery studio in 1872. De Morgan’s experiments in ceramic glazes led him to rediscover the lost art of lustre decoration and he excelled at reproducing the brilliant colours associated with Islamic pottery, particularly the bright turquoise which features prominently in his ceramic work. De Morgan was especially inspired by Isnik work of the 16th century and was responsible for installing and repairing the magnificent Arab Hall at Leighton House (Royal Borough of Kensington).
De Morgan worked primarily as a ceramic designer and had a substantial staff of decorators. During his career he worked on a range of commissions from stately homes to the Czar of Russia’s yacht and his tiles decorated the public rooms and corridors of several P&O Liners. He was a colourful character and many of his intricate
designs demonstrate his invention and humour. However, his head for invention rather overtook his business sense and he struggled to make a financial success of the pottery.
De Morgan ran his pottery from three different London locations during the lifespan of the company. He first opened for business in 1872 at Cheyne Row in Chelsea. By 1882 De Morgan had outgrown this site and moved production to Merton Abbey, near Wimbledon. This was close to the workshop of his friend and colleague, William Morris. De Morgan moved the pottery for a final time in 1888 to Sands End in Fulham, where it remained until the closure of the business.
De Morgan was also a stained glass artist, inventor and chemist. After his pottery closed in 1904 he embarked on a career as a novelist and in the final years before his death he published seven novels, all of which enjoyed enormous success and brought their author the financial security which had until then eluded him. Alongside his wife Evelyn Pickering De Morgan, whom he married in 1887, he was actively involved with the issues of his day such as education, prison reform, the suffragette movement, pacifism and spiritualism.