Hugh O'Donnell working with paper pulp on the 'Weapons of Desire, Bedford' series in the workshop at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York, 1983
Gift of Kenneth Tyler 2002
Photographer: Lindsay GREEN

Hugh O’Donnell was born in London in 1950. From 1968–74 he undertook study at various institutions across England, including the University of the Arts in London, the University College Falmouth in Cornwall, the University of Central England in Birmingham and the University of Gloucestershire. In 1974 he was awarded a fellowship to the Kyoto City University of Arts in Japan, and upon his return completed his thesis on Japanese monumental screen painting in the Momoyama period at the Royal College of Art in 1979.

In 1983 O’Donnell worked with Ken Tyler and other workshop staff at Tyler Graphics to complete the series of 25 paper pulp works entitled Weapons of desire. A unique mould was created for each image, through which coloured paper pulps and dyes were applied to white paper pulp bases, creating an almost painterly effect. O’Donnell returned to Tyler Graphics in 1992 to create his Mélusine works, the title of which refers to a female water spirit from European folklore—a mermaid with two tails.
Emilie Owens

Further reading


Born in London, England

Attends Falmouth School of Art, Cornwall, England, and receives Bachelor of Art

Attends Birmingham School of Art, Birmingham, England

Receives first prize, Sir Whitworth Wallace Trust, Birmingham, England

Receives fellowship to Gloucestershire College of Art, England

Receives fellowship to Kyoto University of Arts, Kyoto, Japan

First solo exhibition, Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo, JapanBegins teaching career with lectures in various tertiary institutions across England

Completes thesis, ‘Monumental screen painting of the Japanese Momoyama period’, at the Royal College of Art, London

Receives Arts Council Award from the Arts Council of Great Britain

Receives Works for Public Places Commission from the Arts Council of Great Britain and the Arun District Council, England

Included in travelling exhibition, British art now: an American perspective, originating at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

 Receives Purchase Award, Arts Council of Great Britain

Completes unique paper pulp works entitled, Weapons of desire, Bedford series, at Tyler Graphics Ltd, Bedford Village, New YorkIncluded in exhibition, Britain salutes New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Solo exhibition, Works on paper, Marlborough Graphics, London; included in exhibition, Drawings Since 1974, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC

Included in exhibitions: Prints from Tyler Graphics, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Ten years: a retrospective, Air Gallery, LondonVisiting artist at Chelsea School of Art, London

Visiting artist at Slade School of Painting, London University, London

Visiting artist at St. Martins School of Art, London

Moves to New YorkIncluded in exhibition, Emerging artists 1978-1986, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

The Body Echo project begins. This project involves the public installation of studio executed and site specific drawings inspired by the breathing patterns and heart rhythms of the human body.

Appointed faculty member and visiting artist at New York Studio School of Painting and Drawing, New York

Included in travelling exhibition, The question of drawing, originating at Miami Dade Community College, FloridaCreates set and costume designs for dance production Drawn Breath, performed by the Siobhan Davies Dance Company at Riverside Studios, London. The production receives the1989 Digital Dance Award.

Visiting professor at Pratt Institute, New York; visiting critic, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Completes the lithograph, Waccabuc I, and the mixed-media lithographs, Mélusine I and Mélusine II,at Tyler Graphics Ltd, Mount Kisco, New YorkIncluded in travelling exhibition, Innovation in Collaborative Printmaking: Kenneth Tyler, 1963-1992, originating at Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan

Included in exhibitions: Drawing in black and white: selections from the permanent collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York; 20th International Print Biennial, International Center for Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Moves to Washington

Travelling solo exhibition, Drawings: the lake series and the body echo project, originating at the Art Museum, University of Memphis, Tennessee

Adjunct Professor, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Professor of Painting and Director of School of Visual Arts, Boston University, Massachusetts

Chair of Undergraduate Painting, School of Visual Arts, College of Fine Arts, Boston University, Boston

Included in exhibition, Print Matters – the Kenneth E. Tyler gift, Tate Modern, London

Solo exhibition, The body echo project, von Liebig Arts Center, Naples, Florida

Publishes book, Body Echo, which documents the various installations of the Body Echo projectIncluded in exhibition, Transforming chronologies: an atlas of drawings, part two, in the Drawing Galleries, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Solo exhibition, Paintings, Morrison Gallery, Kent, Connecticut

Included in exhibition, DIGITAL'08: imagination on behalf of our planet, 10th International Digital Print Competition & Exhibition, New York Hall of Science, New York

Forms Body Echo LLC, a site-specific art company specialising in motion graphic video walls and digital art; included in exhibition, 2011 international paper art exhibition, Chung-Shan National Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

Solo exhibition, New work, Morrison Gallery, Kent, Connecticut

Hugh O’Donnell currently lives and works in Washington, Connecticut, and Boston, Massachusetts

© Tyler Graphics Ltd; revised Emilie Owens, 2007; revised Julia Greenstreet, 2014

This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017