Stuart Devlin AO CMG
1931 - 2018


Stuart Devlin AO CMG 1931 - 2018

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Stuart Devlin, the internationally renowned designer, silversmith, jeweller, sculptor, furniture, interiors and architecture designer and previous Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths Company, has died on 12 April 2018 at the age of 86 in Chichester.

“I hope that my work reflects four maxims:
That future is much more important than the past
That creativity is paramount
That skill is fundamental
And that the justification for being a goldsmith is to enrich the way people live and work.”
Stuart Devlin

Devlin, an Australian by birth, became renowned as a contemporary designer of coins, medals and design led precious metal work and became a protagonist of a resurgence in silversmithing in the late twentieth century. He became well known for his idea generation and adaptability across mediums, pioneering individualistic design ideals.

Highlights of Devlin’s design career include being awarded in 1982 the royal warrant as goldsmith and jeweller to the Queen; the design of commemorative coins for the 2000 Sydney Olympics; medals for the Australian Honours System; and coin design for some 30 different countries. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held by Royal Australian Mint in 2017. His portfolio of work included ecclesiastical and academic commissions, as well as those for the armed forces, sports trophies and for the Royal Households. His work is held in several private collections including that of the Goldsmiths’ Company and national coin collection of Australia.

“(Devlin) introduced techniques which were entirely new. He mixed gold and silver, introduced filigree, tactile surfaces instead of just plain silver. He cut the chains of tradition. He was really very radical.” Wrote John Andrew co-author of 'Designer British Silver'.

Born in the port city of Geelong in Victoria, Australia in 1931, he attended the Gordon Institute of Technology, where he specialised in gold and silversmithing. After a spell of teaching art after graduating at the age of 17, he returned to education to further study gold and silversmithing at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology from which he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London and also a Harkness Fellowship at Columbia University in New York. On coming back to Melbourne, Australia in 1962, Devlin returned to teaching and eventually became an inspector of art schools. It was in this period of his life that a contest to design Australia’s new dollar-based decimal coinage was launched.

In 1964 Devlin won the competition to design the coinage of Australia using seminal motifs of unique animals native to Australia including the kangaroo, platypus, lyrebird, echidna, frilled lizard and feathetail glider. It was after this famed commission, and before its public release that Devlin relocated to London and started up a workshop in St. John Street, Clerkenwell concentrating on silversmithing and manufacture, with an emphasis on design led products in limited batch productions and employed nine craftsmen. From 1979 to 1985 there was an addition of a customer facing shop based in Conduit Street which brought his personalised language of design into the mainstream buying public and their design psyche. The shop was to close in 1985 and Devlin with his wife moved to Chichester, West Sussex where he continued to work to commission.

“Stuart Devlin was probably the most original and creative goldsmith and silversmith of his time, and one of the greats of all time. His originality of design marked him out as a master craftsman and his prolific output was a tribute to the width of his imagination. I consider myself fortunate to own a number of his works.”
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh is quoted as saying in the foreword of the book 'Stuart Devlin: Designer Goldsmith Silversmith'.

Throughout the nineteen nineties Devlin became heavily involved in the Goldsmiths’ Company eventually becoming Prime Warden from 1996 to 1997. It was this involvement in the Company which led to the inception of the vision for a training facility for apprentices and designers in precious metals, the Goldsmiths’ Centre, which he worked on from 2005 to its opening in 2012. During the project he returned to his teaching background and personally tutored rising stars in jewellery design in pilot programmes prior to the Centre opening, culminating in one of his cohort going on to design a bespoke commission presented to the Queen on Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee.

Stuart Devlin suffered a major stroke in 2011, and then another in 2014 which then prevented Devlin from drawing.

“It is with sadness that the Royal Australian Mint acknowledges the peaceful passing of Stuart Devlin AO on 12 April at his home in Chichester, United Kingdom aged 86. Devlin is the designer of Australia’s circulating coins and regarded as one of the most creative and influential goldsmith and silversmiths of his time. We are proud to have showcased Stuart Devlin’s work in the 2017 exhibition Stuart Devlin – The Designer with the Midas Touch, and to have collaborated with Stuart and his family on the production of a substantial biography released to coincide with the exhibition. The Mint is also honoured to hold plasters and original sketches of Devlin’s work in the National Coin Collection.
All Australians will continue to carry a lasting reminder of Stuart Devlin in their pockets for years to come, which is a touching tribute to his masterful designs and extraordinary career.”

- statement released by the Royal Australian Mint, April 2018.

He is survived by his wife Carol.

A memorial service will be held in London at St Vedast Church, Foster Lane, London EC2V on 20 June 2018.


Rebecca van Rooijen


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