The husband and wife team had an extraordinary creative partnership and shared the theme of the sea in many of their works. Where better to see them than in the cliff-top art gallery, overlooking a glorious golden beach?
|Display of ceramics|
Starting with William De Morgan, his pots and tiles are in deliciously resplendent colours. He made the most amazing tiles showing fanciful medieval ships, taken from manuscripts, woodcuts and engravings...
One of my favourite pieces was this jar in ruby and gold-lustre earthenware showing curls and swirls of fish swimming around its plump figure...
There is a very 'touchable' quality to De Morgan's pots (which of course you can't indulge in!) because they are so marvellously three dimensional. Somehow they manage to strike the right balance between tasteful and insane, and although they have a very Victorian aesthetic, the beautiful and subtle colours make them timeless. I want a fish jar. It's so gorgeous. Some of his tiles were used on P&O liners when he was employed by the company from 1882 to 1900 and his tiles decorated the public rooms of twelve of their liners, enhancing their sumptuous interiors. Sadly none of the ships have survived, but a number of duplicate tiles were created and are on display at the exhibition.
|The cabinet of treasures|
|Aurora Triumphans (1886)|
|Lux in Tenebris (1895)|
|The Sea Maidens (1885-86)|
This is lovely in the (everso abundant) flesh, and the mermaids, all painted from the same model, the De Morgan's Maid, are icily beautiful and remote. The sea is deep and inky blue, contrasting with the pearly skin of the girls and the scales of their tails reflect the light below the water. It is wonderful.
|Ariadne in Naxos (1877)|
|Boreas and Oreithyia (1896)|
The exhibition is definitely worth a visit and it does give you a chance to see the rest of the marvellous museum at the same time. The De Morgans and the Sea runs from 1st April until 28th September and further information can be found on the Rusell-Cotes home page here.