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Michael O'Connell (7 August 1898 – 9 December 1976) was an English Modernist artist who worked in Australia between World War I and World War II and then in England. He is best known as a textile artist, with significant works held in the UK in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, and the collection of National Museums Scotland, and in Australia in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
|Born||August 7, 1898|
|Died||December 9, 1976(aged 78)|
|Education||Ushaw College as lay boy|
|Known for||Textile artist|
|Pandemonium, Modernist frieze, 1930|
Variety of British Farming, very large hanging for the 1951 Festival of Britain
|Spouse(s)||Ella (m. 1931, 1900-1981)|
née Eleanor Emmie Evans-Vaughan
(known as Seamus)
Michael William O'Connell was the eldest son of Patrick O'Connell and his wife Mary Cecilia, and was born in 1898 in Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire (Cumbria). After the death of his father from typhoid fever in 1900 he was brought up solely by his mother in Newcastle upon Tyne, and was educated as a lay boy at Ushaw College, a Roman Catholic seminary in County Durham.[a]
In World War I he was sent to the front in 1917 as a junior officer in an Irish regiment and was taken prisoner of war in 1918.
After the war O'Connell took some training in agriculture before emigrating to Australia in 1920 to attend an agricultural college in Wagga Wagga.
He very soon abandoned agriculture and moved to Melbourne. In 1920 to 1923 he travelled around Victoria painting watercolours, which were exhibited in Melbourne and well-received - some of his works were selected for a group exhibition of Victorian artists at the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley, London in 1924-25.
By 1923 he was living in a tent on a block of land he had bought in Beaumaris on Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne where a number of painters lived, but a health inspector turned up one day and condemned the tent as health risk. He had to pull it down. In response he built a house, Barbizon, a decision that transformed his life; he became a craftsman-designer and a Modernist.
O'Connell built 'Barbizon' in 1924-25. Lack of money meant that he built the house himself, without an architect or builder, using the cheapest material he could find, concrete blocks made with sand from the site, in an open-plan cruciform design which gave the minimum chance of the walls falling down. A local commentator observed that he 'made it for himself out of bricks he made himself, and fitted it with furniture he made himself and hangings he made himself! The result is perfect.'
Its name was probably a reference to the Barbizon school of art, but its design and functionalism were born of necessity and looked to Modernism. The house was lost in a bushfire in 1944.
Barbizon became his personal studio and a gathering place for fellow artists. He also started to produce concrete garden furniture and pots, 'sculpture for the garden', often painted and dyed, and became a member and councillor of the Arts and Crafts Society in Melbourne, where he met his wife Ella Moody (née Evans-Vaughan) (1900–1981). They married in April 1931 in Melbourne.
Concrete garden furnitureEdit
This arose out O'Connell's use of concrete for building Barbizon. 'He experimented, and found that he could treat the concrete so that he could paint on it, and made some colourful plaques to light the dull gray walls. Then he modelled out bowls and worked his diagrams on them in colour. Then he impregnated the concrete with colour, and made a beautiful set of red and cream tiles for his front porch. Then he turned his attention to the out-of-doors. A sunken garden, bird-baths, tiny fountains, and great bowls brimming with hyacinths, and malacoides.'
His work was characteristically innovative and experimental - for example, huge pots with relief panels, some painted in fresco, fountains, birdbaths embellished with animals or figures. He advertised it as 'sculpture for the garden'.
'Through this process, O'Connell came to identify himself with the trajectory of Modernism, something that he does not appear to have done as a watercolour artist. It was not, however, the Modernism of heroic avant-garde; rather, it was an antiheroic, domestically-focussed and sited craft-based Modernism.'
He had a number of commissions for garden furniture, and Edna Walling, prominent Australian garden designer, collaborated with him for an exhibition for the Arts and Crafts Society in Melbourne in 1927.
O'Connell's success with the concrete garden furniture and his extreme frugality enabled him to afford a visit to England in 1929, passing through Italy and Paris. It is possible that it was in London that he first came across lino-cuts.
On his return from Europe he continued with the concrete garden furniture, but in 1930 he started experimenting with lino-cuts, and then resolved to create a long linen frieze, Pandemonium. It is not known what lead to his decision to print lino-cuts on linen, and as a frieze rather than individually, but many of the members of the Arts and Crafts Society, who supported and encouraged him in his work, were interested in and working with textiles. In any case, Pandemonium is one of his most significant works; it is held in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.
From then on he concentrated on hand-block printing on fabric. He used synthetic dyes, rather than the local vegetable dyes popular with members of the Arts and Craft Society, and had to carry out extensive research into the dyes and the dyeing process, becoming very knowledgeable.
The Pandemonium frieze, in the collection of the Australian National Gallery, consists of twelve individual panels joined to form a continuous sequence of images, with decorative borders above and below. The panels depict a 1920s penthouse party, with stylised figures of diners, dancers, and musicians, with the two outermost panels depicting sirens lying under a night sky. O'Connell had used similar contemporary imagery on the back of a large concrete seat exhibited in late 1929; that illustrates the ease with which he moved between media. The siren was to become one of the motifs that he used throughout his career - as Eve in some late works.
He reused the blocks from Pandemonium in a variety of ways to create other wall hangings and curtains. He had 'design rules', the first principle of which was 'fill every space with a definitely spaced pattern, e.g. in the case of foliage, say, cover the whole in rhythmical spacing and fill up the detail in between.'
Success in MelbourneEdit
O'Connell's fabrics rapidly became very successful in artistic circles in Melbourne. In 1934 an art critic wrote: 'As a master craftsman in the production of hand block-printed textiles, curtains, and fabrics, Michael O'Connell ranks among the best artists in Australia. The range and variety of his designs show that he has rare powers of invention; and his sense of colour is very evident. One gets more stimulus from a display of his fabrics than from many an exhibition of pictures.'
O'Connell had already established himself at his house, Barbizon, a Modernist statement that gained him a place in Melbourne's avant-garde community, and a base of operations for his concrete garden furniture enterprise. With his growing success with the fabrics it became a studio house, a destination for fellow artists, clients, journalists and the simply curious, written up and photographed in design journals, and where he and Ella hosted gatherings of the Arts and Crafts Society.
He worked with many notable people in that artistic milieu, among others garden designer Edna Walling, sculptor Ola Cohn, furniture designer Fred Ward, Modernist shop-owner Cynthia Reed, then young editor and publisher Harry Tatlock Miller, and patron of the arts Maie Casey.
However, in the view of John McPhee, one time curator of Australian Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Australia and Prof. Harriet Edquist, author of his biography, O'Connell's role in the in the development of Modernism in Australia has been largely over-looked. She has written: 'there has emerged a consensus … [that] Australian Modernism began in Sydney in the 1920s and was only taken up in Melbourne in the 1930s. O'Connell's role in articulating a Modernist position through his craft practice in the 1920s, initially in the building of Barbizon and later with his cement furniture and figures, has remained outside this historical purview, as has his practice as a printmaker independent of textile design. … Yet in his time, the innovative nature of O'Connell's work was recognised by fellow artists, designers, architects, critics, clients and retailers.' Edquist callled the biography 'The Lost Modernist'.
O'Connell and Ella moved to England in 1937. They built their new home, The Chase, at Perry Green, near Much Hadham, Hertfordshire. It is notable that from his mid-twenties onwards he never lived anywhere but in a house that he had built for himself, set in idyllic green surroundings.
O'Connell and Ella built the house on their own, living in a tent on site. They managed to produce some work while doing so, to bring in money to pay for its completion.
He had wanted to build the house using concrete blocks, as at Beaumaris, but to conform with local building regulations he had to change to vernacular brick and timber. The bricks were old and uneven, from nearby demolished cottages, giving the house an aged hand-wrought character. As at Beaunaris, the house was set in a clearing edged by concrete pots, and again, it was a studio house. It had a low lath and plaster workshop attached to the brick house, a large room for showing work at the far end with a ladder/stair up to a small bedroom under the eaves, and the living room with large fireplace, kitchen and primitive bathroom between.
Before and after World War IIEdit
O'Connell had a variety of exhibitions and commissions in Britain before the war, among others the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society at Burlington House, the Daily Mail's Ideal Home Exhibition, Edinburgh Weavers, Harrods, and the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. At this time he met Christopher Heal, of Heal's store in London. Heal said: 'it was the first time I had met a craftsman who could handle vat dyes producing fabrics in colours that would not fade. The designs were striking, of a kind unlike any I had seen. I quickly decided to buy some and hold a small exhibition of Michael's work in the Fabric Dept; so began a long lasting friendship.'
In World War II O'Connell served with the artillery manning the guns at Dover and then was moved to the Royal Ordnance as an Inspector of Dangerous Buildings at a munitions factory in Chorley, Lancashire, while Ella turned The Chase into a smallholding with goats, chickens, vegetables, and an orchard, assisted by Tom Perry of Perry Green. It might have been at this time that she produced linocut postcards depicting villages in the area. Evacuees from London joined Ella at The Chase, including the Australian artists Sheila Hawkins and James Cook, and Australian Marxist revolutionary Mark Bracegirdle. In 1943 she joined Michael in Chorley for the birth of their son, Terence (later known as Seamus).
After the war fabric was in short supply but Christopher Heal made sure O'Connell was supplied with heavy rayon fabric for his work. In this period he had several assistants.
O'Connell's methods and style evolved. He now used a mixture of lino blocks and freehand painting with paste resist. Iris has provided an account of the process he used: He drew the design on paper with coloured chalk and poster paints, and when it was dry she and Betty scaled it up, transferred it to huge sheets of brown paper and perforated it. The paper was then placed on top of the fabric which had been cut to size, mordanted and laid out on a flat linoleum surface, weighed down at the corners with flat irons and bricks, and the design was transferred to the fabric by pouncing - dusting with charcoal powder. After mixing the dyes with the paste resist (china clay, gum arabic, caustic soda), Iris and Betty funnelled the mixture into a piping bag with a nozzle, and then piped the fine lines and outlines of the design on the fabric, the rest being filled in with brushes. When completely dry, the finished textile was hung up in the studio until there was enough to justify a dyeing session. The background dyeing took place outside and involved dyeing in large dye baths and fixing the colours in boiling water and sulphuric acid, which bubbled so ferociously the ground shook around it. Iris said: 'This done, you could now lay the item out flat on the concrete yard and get the hosepipe and stiff yardbroom out. Start scrubbing and a miracle has occurred. The china clay comes off and in its place those vibrant colours which were hidden until now. The background is a fresh bright shade and you stand back and look on with pride.' After final washing in softened water, the textiles were ready to hang out to dry and, when dry, sewn to whatever lengths were required, although a large mural might be taken to its destination in pieces, left to drop into shape, and then flat-seamed together.
O'Connell started to focus on the wall hanging or 'painted tapestry' as a form of contemporary, democratic and transportable mural art. His imagery was influenced by, among others, Raoul Dufy and French tapestries, medieval pictorial conventions, as in the hangings depicting local villages, and theatrical stage sets. He worked on commission and for exhibitions, in addition to continuing to produce designs for Heal's. Around this time he sometimes signed his works 'Mael'. Australian connections persisted - a commission for Australia House in London in 1947 and a large group of murals sent to Melbourne in 1952 for a solo exhibition at Georges department store.
He was a foundation member of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1946, and became caught up in progressive and idealistic initiatives to enliven public and industrial environments, such as recreation rooms and canteens - motifs in hangings from this period often include plates of food. He produced hangings for schools for a number of local authorities, and bedspreads for two Oxford colleges and Reading University, and a London hospital. Commercial commissions included the Olivetti showrooms in London and Moss Bros. He also exhibited widely at this time, including at the CoID's Britain Can Make It at the V&A in 1946, the Hambro House of Design in New York in 1950, the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society at the V&A in 1950, and the Beaux-Art Gallery in London in 1951.
In these years the relationship between O'Connell and Ella started to become strained, and from 1950 Ella and Terence did not live at The Chase, while O'Connell had a long-term relationship with Elizabeth Wilson. However, O'Connell and Ella did not entirely separate, and over the years she and Terence often spent weekends at The Chase, sometimes all three went on holiday together, and Ella occasionally did some work for him.
The 1951 Festival of BritainEdit
Tanya Harrod has written that the Festival of Britain, on the South Bank in London in 1951, was an 'initiative of a Labour government, it was put together in a spirit of war socialism. All the leading designers and architects of the day were involved and the exhibition was meant to be inclusive, honouring every class and region in Britain.' F H K Henrion designed the Country Pavilion and commissioned O'Connell to produce a very large wall hanging, 4 metres high by 56 metres long, in seven sections, depicting the Variety of British Farming. It is now in the collection of the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) in Reading, where one of its panels is on permanent display.
O'Connell travelled across the country, taking observations of characteristic agricultural scenes, drew up seven cartoons, now in MERL's collection, and a produced a fabric sample, Caledonia, now in the collection of National Museums Scotland. Edquist writes that 'he drew stylistic inspiration from medieval painting, particularly the tradition of the 'labours of the month', estate maps and heraldry, which he skilfully hybridised with folk art and contemporary content'. He used linocuts for repeated motifs, such as trees and foliage, while regionally specific elements such as barns and cattle were hand-draw in resist, as were the many tiny figures on tractors, feeding hens, having a cup of tea, or whatever. The panels represent Rutlandshire, Scotland and Wales, Cheshire, Northern Ireland, Yorkshire, The Fens, and Kent. They were sewn together in situ in the Country Pavilion by Betty Sheridan working up a ladder.
After their display the panels toured New Zealand and Australia before being acquired by MERL, where they were used as backdrops to their tents at country shows before being put into storage and forgotten until 1998, when they were rediscovered and researched by curator Jill Betts. Two, Cheshire and Kent, have since been conserved. and are displayed in rotation for five years each at MERL.
After the Festival of Britain O'Connell was able to progress to producing more modern work. F H K Henrion gave him further commissions, notably for the Time-Life Building in New Bond Street in London a series of column motif curtains across the south wall of the reception area. For Heal's he designed lengths of printed fabrics using abstract designs, such as Synchromesh, but sometimes base on stylised natural forms, such as Chrysanthemum.
But for many clients he had to continue with the more traditional styles and imagery as used in the Festival hanging, responding to the mood of the times, the celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
As more kinds of fabric became available he moved on from the heavy rayon to linen, cotton, and silk and experimented with more complex techniques, multiple dyeings and wax resist (batik) as well as paste resist. At the same time he began to systematise his motifs into recognisable categories or vocabularies which allowed him to work on different themes, imagery and technique simultaneously and produce coherent bodies of work within each theme. His designs reflected the times, his travels, his interests, and the commissions he received, ranging through, among many others, the steel works in Corby, electrical circuits, heraldic motifs, history and mythology, Mexican figures, African motifs, ancient megaliths, pop art, and Saul Steinberg, whose drawings he greatly admired. He produced designs for Heal's printed fabrics, and Henry Rothschild, another admirer of his work, displayed his hangings in his Primavera arts and crafts gallery shops in Sloane Street London and King's Parade Cambridge. He also continued to make large concrete garden pots as a sideline.
Murder of Beckett, for a school in Leicestershire, illustrates what O'Connell called his 'linear period' or style. It is featured in Tanya Harrod's The Crafts in Britain in the Twentieth Century and in 1999 was included in the Pleasures of Peace exhibition which accompanied its publication.
In 1954-55 O'Connell visited southern Africa and exhibited in Johannesburg. On his return he was commissioned by United Africa Company Textiles to produce a small handbook on resist-dyeing and tie-dyeing techniques in order to introduce the 'many women of West Africa who do craft dyeing ... to modern techniques of dyeing, which give the dyes greater lasting power and leave the cloth pleasant to touch.' For his own work he appropriated African motifs such as masks, totems, and animals, arranging them in columns and grids which could be combined with an abstract vocabulary of dots, lines, and circles in various ways for cushions, curtains, and other furnishing fabrics.
In the late 1950s O'Connell became interested in developing motifs that were abstractions of the modern world, and came up with the Electronics series, following a commission from an electronics company. However, he became ambivalent about pure abstraction and in time he began to morph the motifs into three-dimensional, sculptural, and humanoid shapes with selected shading, as in this hanging, which also gives a nod to his neighbour Henry Moore, whose sculpture he could see at the top of the field opposite the end of his workshop.
Going into the 1960s O'Connell developed a new 'stony' technique, which he used for work representing religious themes, such as the Flight into Egypt, and in many other Celtic, archaic, and archaeological images. 
In the 1960s Le Rêve was a Chelsea restaurant at the heart of Swinging London. O'Connell had an arrangement to hire it six hangings, changed annually or bi-annually, so for O'Connell it became a small gallery for a select and fashionable audience. Though in his sixties, he visited London regularly and kept up with what was going on. He developed a new form of abstraction where fragments of his vocabulary were meshed with imagery from the contemporary metropolis, often broken letter shapes. A work from this period, Covent Garden Underground, is in the collection of the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.
In 1967 O'Connell noted 'The idea of "The Flower People" appeals. Have a go.' He was then approaching seventy but his family gave him an entrée to London's counterculture. His son Terence (then known as Seamus to his friends) had been at school in Cambridge with Roger Waters and Syd Barrett of the Pink Floyd, and Ella, increasingly eccentric, had moved to a central London bedsit in a 'hideous block full of deranged people', where Syd also lived for a time and spent evenings with Ella talking about the occult, Tarot, astrology, runes, and the like. So when the Pink Floyd played at the Architectural Association's student Christmas carnival O'Connell went along. The impact of psychedelic flower power can be seen in the heightened colour, composition and forms of his new work, many of them with flower power girls transformed into strange images, Vanity, a woman gazing into a mirror, or exotic reclining nudes, sometimes explicitly Eve and temptation, reprising the sirens from the 1930s.
In the late 1960s O'Connell not only shifted his thematic interests but also his dyeing technique. He had always used paste resist but he had known about Javanese batik wax resist and now he started to experiment with it. He also shifted from heavy linen and cotton to light cottons and silk, which were much easier to handle. Tanya Harrod says that the only other adventurous exponent of the technique at the time was Noel Dyrenforth. The two occasionally showed together, and Dyrenforth attended one of O'Connell's workshops.
In Australia O'Connell's standing in the cultural and artistic milieu of the time had been bolstered by his collaboration with avant-garde architects, designing his fabrics for furnishing within a whole approach to interior design, sold through smart design shops and department stores and shaping the look of 1930s Modernism in Melbourne and to an extent in Sydney. He brought this practice back to England, exhibiting in the Ideal Home show and selling through Heal's. The 1951 collaboration with F H K Henrion lead to further commissions from architects and institutions, but the connection with architecture began to loosen in the 1950s and into the 1960s and O'Connell felt his position becoming less secure. A number of factors contributed to this: he was out of sympathy with much contemporary art; in the art world textiles did not have the cultural cachet of painting and sculpture; his practice had no tradition or authority behind it since he had invented it for himself and he was not a gifted communicator on his own behalf - besides, he had had no formal art training; he did not have a commercial gallery or dealer, nor a partner to manage his work and promote it; he was not well-organised - no curriculum vitae, no inventory of works, few records of clients, only occasional partial lists of his major commissions for gallery biographies - though, fortunately, in the late 1950s he did start to take photographs of his hangings, and it is through them that the extent of his later output can be gauged. The frustrations of doing everything himself became an increasing source of depressive anxiety. However, in compensation, he did have the continuing support of Christopher Heal and Henry Rothschild, among others, and some significant recognition: he was a foundation member in 1965 of the Hampstead Arts Centre (later the Camden Arts Centre) whose director Jeanette Jackson had a cottage in Perry Green; and in 1968 he was made an Honorary Member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen for his 'great services to the crafts in this country'.
Teaching and assistantsEdit
Teaching had always been a part of O'Connell's practice from the time he took classes at Melbourne Tech in the early 1930s, and he taught privately at The Chase from the 1950s. As large commissions fell away in the late 1960s he came to rely on teaching for a regular income. His wide network of colleagues and friends ensured that he was invited to colleges for lectures and demonstrations. His main teaching commitment was at Ware College of Further Education, nearby in Hertfordshire, where his good friend John Tobin was an art teacher and ensured that he was on the staff from 1968. Tobin also sent students to The Chase to see him at work, including Sue Parnham, who became a regular assistant. Jeanette Jackson of the Hampstead Arts Centre also taught at Ware College and took her students to The Chase.
O'Connell's most important studio assistant from the late1950s to the 1970s was Jo Jones, who lived nearby in Hunsdon. He saw her as a colleague on whom he could rely - and indeed she claimed that it she who came up with the idea of using plastic wire wool to create the 'stony' effect. Along with the Tobins, she became a regular part of O'Connell's local social and professional network.
The Hoops and open house at The ChaseEdit
In the 1950s and 1960s local artists and writers would gather on Sunday lunchtimes at The Hoops, the pub in Perry Green, and on sunny days many of them would move on to The Chase afterwards. That was consciously intended by O'Connell. He carefully nurtured, as he wrote in July 1966, his 'little oasis of garden woodland surrounded with more flowers than ever before and the artistry of concrete stone and fabric'. He was keeping open house, another echo of his earlier life in Beaumaris.
Fire in the workshopEdit
On 13 May 1970 O'Connell left two students in charge for the day at The Chase while he was away teaching at a college. Wax heating on a paraffin stove in the workshop had been left unattended and caught fire. The workshop, timber-framed and full of flammable material, was burnt to the ground. The wall next to the main part of the house was scorched and part of the roof was damaged. Locals, including Henry Moore's assistants, rushed over to help but little could be saved from the workshop. Fortunately O'Connell kept most of his hangings in the 'big room' at the other end of the house, but he lost most of his diaries, which he archived in the loft under the roof. His diaries were very important to him, he felt their loss keenly, and he immediately started a new diary. It has to be recognised that O'Connell's safety practices were primitive. He had had three earlier small fires in the 1960s and 1970s, two of them also caused by forgetting about wax heating up on the stove.
Friends rallied round to support him, and by June work had started on rebuilding, much of it done by O'Connell himself, despite his being seventy-two at the time. There were compensations: with the insurance money he was able to build the workshop in concrete blocks, as he had originally intended, faced with weatherboard to conform with planning regulations: he was able to turn the front porch into a proper bathroom in place of the original primitive arrangement next to the workshop; and he installed some central heating. By August he was back in the house and by November it was more or less restored.
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Accident and deathEdit
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On the Michael O'Connell website there is a link to a commemorative video made by John Tobin after his death.
- He did not start to train as a priest at Ushaw as some biographies state. It was a Roman Catholic seminary, but at that time it took lay boys.
- Edquist 2011, p. 2.
- Edquist 2011, p. 3.
- Edquist 2011, p. 5.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 7–9.
- Edquist 2011, p. 14.
- Edquist 2011, p. 9.
- Edquist 2011, p. 17.
- Edquist 2011, p. 22.
- Edquist 2011, p. 20.
- Edquist 2011, p. 28.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 29–30.
- Edquist 2011, p. 32.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 35–36.
- Edquist 2011, p. 52.
- Edquist 2011, p. 53.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 79–80.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 87–89.
- Edquist 2011, p. 93.
- Edquist 2011, p. 95.
- Edquist 2011, p. 114.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 95–100.
- Edquist 2011, p. 115.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 101–105.
- Edquist 2011, p. 45, 94.
- Scurfield 2008, pp. 193–197.
- Harrod 1999, p. 342.
- "THE MUSEUM OF ENGLISH RURAL LIFE- Online Exhibitions : Then and Now". www.merl.reading.ac.uk.
- Edquist 2011, p. 109.
- Edquist 2011, p. 113.
- "Kate Gill Textile and Upholstery Conservation Services". www.kategillconservation.co.uk/.
- "Forgotten Festival of Britain wall hanging". www.merl.reading.ac.uk/.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 115–120.
- Edquist 2011, p. 126.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 121–124.
- Edquist 2011, p. 123.
- Harrod 1999, p. 250.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 127–130.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 133–138.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 146–148.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 139–144.
- Chapman 2010, p. 15.
- Palacios 2010, p. 90.
- Edquist 2011, p. 155.
- Harrod 1999, p. 307.
- Edquist 2011, p. 157.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 148–152.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 159–160.
- Edquist 2011, p. 160.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 160–161.
- Edquist 2011, pp. 164–165.
- Edquist 2011, p. 165.
- Edquist, Harriet (2011). Michael O'Connell: The Lost Modernist. Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne Books. ISBN 978-1-877096-38-9.
- Harrod, Tanya (1999). The Crafts in Britain in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, CT, USA: Bard, Center, Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07780-7.
- Scurfield, Matthew (2008). I Could be Anyone. Gozo, Malta: Monticello Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9556952-0-9.
- Chapman, Rob (2010). Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-23854-5.
- Palacios, Julian (2010). Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe. London: Plexus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-85965-431-9.
- Official Michael O'Connell website
- Michael O'Connell's work in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- Michael O'Connell's work in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
- The Lost Modernist: Michael O'Connell, past exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery (2011)
- An online exhibition on the work of Michael O'Connell, Museum of English Rural Life, Reading
- "Two oversized, resist-dyed wall hangings by Michael O'Connell for the Festival of Britain Exhibition, 1951: conservation, display and storage", Kate Gill Conservation