Denis O'Connor

Back to all Artists

Denis O’Connor

1947 -

Denis is a sculptor whose work ranges from public monuments to the most private and intimate narratives. Since 1985 he has re-imagined the potential of stone as a material relevant to contemporary art. Collaborations with painters, architects and poets have been a crucial component of his practice.

His work is well represented in all our major public collections, and he has received many prestigious public commissions in New Zealand. The most recent bring ‘Raupo Rap’ on the Viaduct Basin, for the City of Auckland in 2005. What the Roof Dreamt will be exhibited at the City Gallery, Wellington September 2007.

Although an accomplished ceramicist, O’Connor is primarily known for his emblematic forms carved in limestone, and for smaller relief images engraved and burnished into panels of grey Welsh roof slate, occasionally coloured. Legendary for his fastidious craftsmanship, O’Connor’s work abounds in references to New Zealand and Irish history for he is a gifted writer and storyteller who delights in creating unexpected juxtapositions, linking past with present. Many of his slate images are like pages in a solid, non-paper book of fables, blending his own personal family narratives into broader, even global, social histories.

More recently he has been making sculpture with frosted crystal or metal-plated found objects, and large coloured photographs that illustrate theatrical tableau.