A retrospective of Donald A. Stuart’s 50 years as a designer and craftsman featuring a selection of work that explores his contribution to craft practice in Canada.
Gathered together for the first time in 2017 at the Simcoe County Museum, the retrospective showcases his early work in textiles and woodworking, and highlights his outstanding contribution as a master goldsmith and silversmith. Included are many national and international award winning pieces, from hollowware coffee services to exquisite jewellery.
Born in Toronto, Stuart graduated from the Ontario College of Art (AOCA) in 1967, and in 1981 received a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) from the School for American Crafts, Rochester, NY.
In 1969, Stuart helped to initiate a unique weaving project for Inuit women at Pangnirtung, on Baffin Island, Nunavut. This environment is the source of inspiration for many of his designs. Today, this project thrives as a very successful enterprise and is the largest hand-weaving studio in Canada. In 1972 Stuart joined the Design Arts faculty at the Barrie Campus of Georgian College. The first program he initiated was in weaving, and then in 1989, he launched the Jewellery & Metals Program. It was the only college jewellery program in North America to incorporate co-operative education in its curriculum. His passion for excellence resulted in many national and international honours for his students, and his graduates in both weaving and jewellery have gone on to develop significant careers that are making their own impact and contributions to Canadian culture.
In 1990, Georgian College awarded him the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, and upon retiring from full-time teaching in September 2001, he was further honoured by being made the College’s first Professor Emeritus. Stuart took early retirement to concentrate on his freelance studio work. Since 2003, he has had five major solo exhibitions including Homage, which has been travelling throughout Canada.
In addition to his commitment to the support of other artists, for over forty years Stuart has been an active volunteer serving as a director of arts organizations including; the Ontario Crafts Council (President 1983-84); the Canadian Crafts Council; the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts; and the Society of North American Goldsmiths (first Canadian President, 1996-2000). An enthusiastic volunteer with the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), he served on assignments with Indigenous groups in Canada and with a variety of jewellery and craft industry related projects in Lesotho (Africa), Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Bolivia and the Philippines.
Other honours bestowed upon Mr. Stuart include: membership in the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA), 1985; the John Mather Award for Service to the Crafts, 1986; the Jean A. Chalmers Award for Craft, 1994; the Order of Ontario, (O.Ont.), 2000; the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, 2002; and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. In October 2002, Donald A. Stuart was awarded Canada’s highest honour, the Order of Canada (C.M.), in recognition of his illustrious career as a craftsman, and educator. At the investiture, his citation read “his effect on Canada’s arts and crafts industry has been profound and lasting...”.