O'Donnell was born in Penzance just after WWII, and studied art at the Bath Academy of Art at Corsham in the sixties. After completing his course there in 1967, he taught for two years in Sussex then worked in London on design projects.
Michael has worked in various Art Schools including the Falmouth College of Arts and was involved with the development of a number of Arts organisations and initiatives, includingTate St. Ives, the Leach Restoration Project, and South West Arts in Exeter (as outlined below). He was closely associated with the original Trewarveneth Studio in Newlyn for over 30 years, while also maintaining his own studio focused entirely on his drawings and paintings. Since 2000 he has worked solely and full-time on his own artwork. Throughout his long career he has exhibited widely in every part of the United Kingdom. His paintings can be seen in various churches in west Penwith, and his work has been exhibited abroad, including Italy, France and Japan.
1985-7 - South West Arts, Bradninch Place, Gandy Street, Exeter. [Various Arts Panels,Awards Panels, Management Boards, Exhibition Selection and Hanging Committees, Arts Forum and planning meetings etc..
1987-1988: Elected Member, South West Arts Council of Management working in an advisory capacity to the Executive Board.
1988-1989: Appointed to the Executive Board as a non-executive Director for the Visual Arts and Crafts. Working with Sir Anthony Wilson (Chairman) in setting up the new Regional Arts Board. Member of the South West Arts Appointments Panel.
1989-1992: Member Regional Arts Executive Board, South West Arts.
1992-1994: Appointed Vice-Chairman, Executive Hon Officer to the South West Arts Regional Arts Board in Exeter with responsibilities across all Art Forms on all Executive Matters, throughout the Region. Liaison on National Issues,and planning.
1993-2009: Appointed to the Tate (St. Ives) Advisory Council.
2003-2008: Advocate / Founder member Leach Pottery Restoration Project.
Designer, sculptor, draughtsman and teacher, arts administrator
1971-1975: Chichester City Art Gallery Sussex, Wheel Gallery Sussex, Newlyn Gallery, Penwith Gallery, St. Ives, Forum Gallery Brighton, Arts Council Travelling Exhibitions, Amnesty Sculpture Show in Bristol and London, Westward T.V (Independent Television Major Exhibition Selection);
1976-1986 - Newlyn Gallery (Regularly); Penwith Gallery St. Ives; ”Coastline” a major travelling show; Arts Council GB; Plymouth Arts Centre; The Brewhouse Gallery Taunton; Spacex Gallery Exeter; The Victoria Gallery Bath; Arlington Mill in Bibury,
Gloucestershire; Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery; Bookworks to Peru; British Council Exhibition.
1986-1995; Cork; Isle of Man Museum; Glasgow Arts Centre; Scotland; Llandudno; Cardiff; Dublin, Jarrow, Nailsworth, London & NAG,
1987: 'Celtic Vision' (selected)
1989: 'A Century of Art in Cornwall 1889-1989' Part II: A contemporary view
1996: “Then and Now” (Cornish painters) David Messum, Cork Street, London.
2010: Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin ~ invitation with my friend Breon O'Casey.
2011: 'The Cross' solo exhibition at Truro Cathedral, 24th Apr-19th Sep 2011;
October - Creating Isles of Scilly Cross - my gift for the people of the islands
2012: January - New drawings and Paintings - "Responses to Landscape"
Buckman (2006) Artists in Britain since 1945
Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn/Diary of a Gallery
3 Arts Council Publications to accompany a Major Exhibition
Richard Long Sculpture, Peter Joseph Paintings, David Tremlett Drawing, Michael O’Donnell - “Signs”
Sponsored Publication to accompany one-man exhibition at the Newlyn Gallery in Cornwall: Stars
Book of Drawings for the Bath Festival Exhibition.
THE CROSS Cathedral Works - Boxed Set of paintings