Novelist, English potter, and designer William De Morgan was an eminent figure in the late Victorian period, perhaps no more so than due to his unusual explorative style within glass and ceramics (not to mention his inspirational collaboration with William Morris, the furniture designer, and by extension the Pre-Raphaelites). Sublime Symmetry, a new exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery, presents with aptly artistic flair some 80 pieces of De Morgan’s most inventive work, from the early days of stained glass, through his ceramics period, through even to his writing.

It all began with Leighton House, designed by George Aitchison. The Victorian artist-owner, Lord Frederic Leighton, requested De Morgan to install his collection of ancient Turkish, Persian, and Syrian tiles within (the rightly named) Arab Hall. This considerable job required ‘deficiencies’ in many of the tiles to be filled by De Morgan’s expert eye and touch and the entrance hall and stairs were eventually clad in “an intense Turkish turquoise”. This Middle Eastern project was the catalytic spark for De Morgan’s career.

Subsequently forever heavily influenced by such foreign methods and designs, many of De Morgan’s patterns contain mythological figures somehow, and ever brilliantly, intertwined with both other aspects of his decoration as well as the object they adorn. Known also as an inventor, due to this employment of the Middle Eastern style within the bounds of the Victorian British design industry (together with certain chosen methods of production), much of De Morgan’s work is mathematically informed in its repetition of patterns and, of course, precision. Perhaps not surprisingly, given his father, August De Morgan, was a Mathematician (a free talk on this by Sarah Hardy, Curator of the De Morgan Foundation, is available to attend on 16th May; just turn up).

As May Morris once said, “De Morgan has a progressive and resourceful mind, accepting the ancient and simple traditions of the crafts, but not content to rest there”. Sublime Symmetry, this new exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery, explores the extent of De Morgan’s legacy, given his pre-eminence as the leader of the Arts and Craft Movement. Although his work as a novelist in his later years earned him more money than design ever did, the field of ceramics was undeniably altered by De Morgan’s progressive influence.

Open from Friday 11th May until October this year, Sublime Symmetry looks specifically at the mathematical brilliance behind the beauty of De Morgan’s work. Indeed, as part of London Crafts Week, two consecutive Family Days will take place on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th May so that those with young children can interact with design. Choose from either a tile or plate, or make your very own De Morgan-inspired kaleidoscope.

If, however, you prefer your art appreciation with a side of music and cocktails, then on Friday 18th May the Late Night opening at the Guildhall Art Gallery is for you. There are many activities to choose from, but the big draw is the workshop with Rachel Gadsden, where you create a panel with expressionist processes, using acrylic paint and collage techniques in the typical De Morgan style (with a splash of Dante Gabriel Rossetti thrown in for flair). There’s also the option to create a creature from clay. Tickets cost £15; cocktails supplied by The Anthologist. We’ll be there.