Native Dubliner Helen O'Connell graduated from Trinity College Dublin with first class honours in English literature and Art History in 1996 before surrendering to a fascination with stone sculpture. A determination to learn the ancient craft of stone carving led her to North Leitrim where she trained under Seamus Dunbar, Jackie Mc Kenna and Martha Quinn at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre in Manorhamilton. Having fallen in love with the bleak beauty of the local landscape she spent several years in Leitrim working from her cottage studio and teaching at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre.
Studies in the art of marble carving were undertaken in the famous Nicoli studios in Cararra, Italy where she immersed herself in the skills and expertise of generations of artisans. Further pursuit of marble then led the sculptor to the marble quarries of Alentejo, Portugal where she works for lengthy spells and selects the stone for her sculptures. Studies into the discipline of the realistic figurative sculptural tradition have been undertaken under Robert Bodem at the Florence Academy of Art and at the Irish Academy of Figurative Art in Dublin. The artist currently works from D15 studios in Dublin and her studio at home in Wicklow.
Helen O'Connell's sculpture has been exhibited at FORM, Sculpture in Context, the RHA, Iontas, Jorgensons Fine Art, The Talbot Gallery, Gormleys Fine Art, The Back Loft at La Catedral Studios, The Waterfront in Belfast, Galerie Donkerswort in The Netherlands and Galerie Exelmans in Brussels amongst others. Her work is featured in many private collections nationwide and beyond including that of Bono and Anne Madden. Whyte's ‘Buyer's Guide to Irish Art 2006’ cite her as an artist to look out for. The sculptor is also a member of the Arts Council funded collective RANT with which she has exhibited in Donegal and Belgrade in Serbia. She is an award winning member of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. She has been awarded a residency bursary at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre where she frequently absconds to focus on the development of ideas and research. Her last solo exhibition ‘carriage na farraige’ took place at the Signal Arts Centre in 2013.