Sculptor using a wide diversity of materials, born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. She studied at the Crawford School of Fine Art, Cork, 1970–77, with a year at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, 1974–75. She was awarded two travelling scholarships, the first by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, to the British School at Rome (1983–84) and the second, the Irish Arts Council’s PSI Fellowship for New York (1987–88). A two-year residency at Delfina Studios, London, in 1988, led to a long-term stay in the country, returning to live in Ireland in 2002. She has had many solo exhibitions and taken part in numerous group shows, as well as representing Ireland in Biennales in Paris (1982), Sao Paolo (1985) and Venice (2002). Awards include the Wapping Art Trust’s Art and Work Award, for Nyama, at 99 Bishopsgate, 1996, and the Royal Society of Arts Award, 1998. O’Connell’s sensitivity to scale and context has led to many public commissions, the majority in Ireland since her return to live there. Commissions in Great Britain include Secret Station, 1992, Eastern Gateway, Cardiff; Zuni-Zenor, 1993, 10 Fleet Place, London; Vowel of Earth Dreaming its Root, 1998, Marsh Wall, Isle of Dogs, London; Helix, 1998, 1 Curzon Street, London; Pero’s Footbridge (with Ove Arup & Partners) 1993–99, Bristol; Unfurl, 2000, Palace Gate, Kensington; Shear, 2001, Bevois Valley, Southampton; and Everchanging, 2004, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Sources: Eilis O’Connell website; Buckman, D., Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol, 2006.
T. Cavanagh November 2022