Denis O’Connor (b. Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand) is a ceramicist, sculptor and writer based on Waiheke Island, Auckland. O’Connor is primarily known for his emblematic limestone carvings, slate engravings, and large-scale public commissions, that draw on references from the rich literature and histories of Ireland and Aotearoa New Zealand. Renowned for his fastidious craftsmanship, O’Connor delights in mercurial narratives, weaving past with present, through the many mediums he works in. He has been the recipient of the Blumhardt Foundation Residency in Gulgong (2016) Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at Otago University (1985), Moet and Chandon Fellowship in Champagne, France (1996), the Rathcoola Fellowship in Cork, Ireland (2005). He has received funding from the QEII Arts Council/Creative New Zealand for project residencies in Kyoto, Japan (1982), Pietrasanta, Italy (1988), and Marseilles, France (1999). In 2013 he won the Premier Art Award at Headland Sculpture on the Gulf. Most recently he received the Blumhardt Foundation Residency in Gulgong, New South Wales, Australia (2017-18) which renewed his active engagement with ceramics.
In 2016 O’Connor curated the ceramics exhibition Handbuilt for Two Rooms. He has received many prestigious public commissions, including Rudderstone, Wellington Botanical Gardens (1997); Hourglass, Auckland Museum (2000); Maungarei Eavesdrop, University of Auckland (2003); Raupo Rap, Viaduct Basin, Auckland (2005); and Keelstone, Connells Bay Sculpture Park (2010). His work has toured internationally with exhibitions of contemporary New Zealand art, in particular NZ11, Australia; and applied art, such as Treasures from the Land, United States. His major solo public gallery exhibitions include Songs of the Gulf, Auckland Art Gallery, The Dowse Art Museum (1984); Branches from the Wishing Tree, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, The Dowse Art Museum (1986), Theatre of Dust, The Dowse Art Museum (1997); What the Roof Dreamt, City Gallery Wellington (2007); The Gorse King, Christchurch Art Gallery (2008); Early Works 1973-83, and Gus Fisher Gallery (2012).