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.
Last updated March 2015