Portrait by Andy Pilsbury

Les was born in Wellington, Shropshire and grew up in Donnington. He always enjoyed making things, having been taught woodwork by his father from an early age. After leaving school, Les worked for the Civil Service for seven years in a clerical capacity. Wanting to reconnect with his practical skills, Les decided to enrol for evening classes in metal work, trying something different.

Finding great enjoyment in the metalwork classes, he decided to apply for the Silversmithing course at the School of Jewellery, which he started in 1969. Les recalls the outstanding teachers he had and the many things that he made, including a coffee pot and silver cutlery. Les left the School of Jewellery with a Polytechnic Diploma in Silversmithing and found initial employment as designer for Cavalier Tableware in the trade. He stayed at the company for four years; returning to the School of Jewellery as a technician in 1976; where his duties included responsibility for lost wax casting and electrodeposition. In 1994 he became Senior Lecturer at the School; remaining in this role for 18 years. He has undertaken research work both at the School and also in Milan, and through being a member of the School’s Innovation Centre, has been directly involved in projects with the trade.

Never intending to retire, Les still spends one day per week at the School of Jewellery and blends designer/making with consultancies and restoring classic motorcycles at home in Shropshire.

It was like being born again, it was absolutely magical. I still feel emotional about it now because it was absolutely fabulous. From not knowing who you were and what you wanted to do, and suddenly you were with like-minds. Those people who were in my first year at Vittoria St, two or three of us are still in touch now.

– Les Curtis

Listen to Les

Les talks about his role at the School of Jewellery in the 1970s