Donald Stuart

(Thanks to Kelly Galbraith for the wonderful interview!)

Artist Statement

Most of my work is one-of-a kind custom, created with input from clients. I respond to the wishes of the client, inspired by their needs, but fulfilling my desire to create something beautiful and unique. As a result, often I am taken into realms previously unknown to me— sometimes technically, sometimes aesthetically. In many ways, this exhibition is very much the same. Working from the theme, I respond to the women, much as clients, only it is their story that becomes the inspiration.

I have always been fascinated with history and historical figures. I wanted to celebrate women’s contribution to Canada and my readings inspired me to develop this theme. Further research enabled me to develop a potential list of women. I also wanted to share the stories of many whom I do not believe have the recognition that I think they should.

Ultimately, the list was pared down to a working list and more in-depth research was done on the selected women. All this proved even more inspiring – both emotionally and creatively. I selected the women to represent a wide variety of disciplines and époques. Canada has so many outstanding women, but I had to limit the numbers due to space and time. I decided that only necklaces would be created, as they are the largest form of jewellery expression. For ease of viewing, they are framed shadow box style, which also treats them as art pieces.

The necklace designs vary with the inspiration and the person. This includes using antique piano keys for Diana Krall; exotic and glamorous materials for Elizabeth Arden; tongue in cheek humour for Laura Secord and the double entendre of the feather quill pen for Pauline Johnson. Materials were selected as appropriate for the person or their story. For some, precious materials were used such as for Eira Thomas (gold and diamonds) and the opposite for Lynn Johnston (wood and plastic) since her work is printed on newspaper. Every aspect was analysed, considered and resolved.

Curator Susan Benson, CM, RCA also created the exquisite portrait sketches that bring reality to the stories of these outstanding Canadian women.

Donald A. Stuart, CM, OOnt, RCA


Donald A. Stuart, CM, 0Ont, RCA, is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art (AOCA) and the School for American Crafts, Rochester, NY (MFA). First Professor Emeritus of Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, Don is the founder of their celebrated Jewellery and Metals program. He has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions and his work is represented in corporate, private and public collections, including the Canadian Museum of History.

Stuart was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) in 1985, was awarded the Order of Ontario (00nt) in 2000 and the Order of Canada (CM) in 2002. The latter honour was in recognition of “his illustrious career as a craftsman and educator and his profound influence on Canada’s arts and crafts industry”

Thank you to our gallery sponsor Port Saint John.