Born in Ennis, County Clare, in 1958, Mick O’Dea studied at the National College of Art and Design and the University of Massachusetts from 1976 to 1981. In 1997 he was awarded an MA in European Fine Art from the Winchester School of Art, having studied in Barcelona and Winchester.
Teaching in the National College of Art and Design from 1981 until 1999, he has also taught at Dun Laoghaire School of Art, St Edmondsbury in Lucan, Porlaoise Prison, The King’s Hospital and the National Gallery of Ireland. He has been a visiting lecturer of Sligo School of Art, The Crawford School of Art in Cork, Dun Laoghaire School of Art, Manchester Polytechnic, Falmouth College of Art, Lyme Academy of Fine Art in Connecticut USA, The Education Units of Portlaoise Prison, St Patrick’s Institution, Wheatfield Prison , Youthreach in Kilrush, Co. Clare and Christchurch, Canterbury, UK.
He has won many awards, including four awards at the Arnotts National Portrait Awards Exhibitions in 1985, 1989, 1993 and 1994. He was awarded the KMPG award at the Annual Oireachtas Exhibition in 1992 and 1998. Other awards include a major Arts Council Bursary in 1986, a prize at the Claremorris Open Exhibition in 1990, an Art Flight to New York in 1993, as well as the ESB Keating McLoughlin Medal at the 1993 Annual RHA Exhibition. He was elected an ARHA in that same year. He received the Taylor de Vere Award for a Work of Distinction in any medium at the Annual RHA Exhibition in 1995, and in 1996 was elected an RHA and a member of Aosdána.
He has exhibited widely in Ireland, Latvia, the UK, USA and Spain. In 2004 he exhibited Audience, a series of portraits, with the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery. This show travelled to the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise in 2005. His work is included in a number of Public and Corporate Collections including The Arts Council of Ireland, The Royal Hibernian Academy, The National Gallery of Ireland, The Crawford Municipal Gallery in Cork, The Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Bank, Trinity College Dublin, The University of Limerick, The National Self-Portrait Collection, The National Drawing Collection, Limerick City Gallery, Clare County Council, GPA Shannon, The Office of Public Works, The Cesis Museum of Art in Latvia, Jury’s Hotel Group, St Patrick’s Hospital, St Luke’s Hospital, the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Donegal County Council, Electricity Supply Board, Department of An Taoiseach, Government Buildings and Fingal County Council.
Mick has participated in residencies in Ireland, including the Tyrone Gutrie Centre, County Monagnan, in 1991 and 1992; The Ballinglen Arts Foundation, County Mayo, in 1998 and 1999 (awarded Fellowship); the Cill Reilig Project, County Kerry, in 2000 and 2001 and at Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr, Arran Islands, County Galway, in 2003 and 2004. He has participated at the Watercolour Symposium in Latvia in 1990 and 1991 and at the Centre d’Art i Natura in Catalunya, Spain, in 1996, and at the Vermont Studios, USA, in 2002 (awarded Fellowship). His ongoing profession as a portrait painter has brought him many commissions, including commissions from Hong Kong, Europe and the USA.