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Stuart Devlin (1931)

  

Stuart Devlin is one of the great contemporary gold and silversmiths and has been acclaimed by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths as the designer with 'the Midas touch'.

In the 1960s and 70s some silversmiths were disenchanted with designing anonymously for big manufacturing firms, which were in decline, and they set out on their own.  They focused on their own style and had a personal commitment to the marketing of their own productions.  The business designer craftsmen Stuart Devlin and Gerald Benney led in this field.  Devlin was very successful with the idea of limited editions and the most popular of these were the surprise Easter eggs and Christmas boxes, which were so successful commercially that they have now become collector's items.

He was born in Geelong, Australia, in 1931.  In his third year of secondary education, he chose to become an art teacher, specialising in gold and silversmithing. In 1957 he took a post at a Melbourne college and studied for a Diploma of Art in gold and silversmithing.  On the strength of this achievement Devlin was awarded scholarships to study at the Royal College of Art in London in 1958 where he excelled and was awarded a Fellowship by the Harkness Foundation of New York.  He chose to spend the two-year fellowship at Columbia University in the United States.

On the completion of his overseas study in 1962, Devlin returned to teach in Melbourne, Australia and subsequently became an inspector of art schools.  In 1964 he won a competition to design the first decimal coinage for Australia and subsequently devised coinage for 36 other countries.

The beginning of Devlin's true style emerged in 1965 when he moved to London and opened a small workshop.  He changed his design direction away from “the austerity of the Bauhaus/Scandinavian Schools to a romantic use of precious metal" and cultivated an individual style of 'textured' silverware, which is now very collectable.  Devlin concluded that the role for a contemporary silversmith is to enrich the way people live and work and he felt the nature of his craft and the romance of precious metals gave him an opportunity to design pieces that added delight, surprise, intrigue, and even amusement to what had become austere and even sterile within the modern idiom of design.

Increasingly he turned out rich and romantic pieces that retained simple forms.  Developing these pieces required technical innovation because the traditional methods of enhancement were no longer available.

In 1982 Devlin was awarded the Royal Warrant of Appointment as goldsmith and jeweller to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and continues to work in West Sussex, England.