Hughie O’Donoghue was born in 1953 in Manchester of British-Irish descent, spending much of his youth in County Mayo. Studied at Goldsmith’s College, University of London, graduating in 1982. The discovery of different histories of place, events and memories, such as that of his mother’s family in County Mayo, or of his father’s experience as a soldier in WW2, has contributed to his approach to making work. He once explained that, in contrast to Lucian Freud’s deliberate decision to avoid ‘the tyranny of the past’ and paint in the now, he consciously wants to look behind himself. He has said “I’m looking at [such a] series of experiences over time”.
Immediately after graduating, O’Donoghue was appointed Artist-in-Residence at Drax Power Station, Yorkshire, and in the following year given a two-year residency at the National Gallery, London. In 2000 he was given a further residency at St John’s College, Oxford. He received an Honorary Doctorate from the National University of Ireland in 2005. He has held many solo exhibitions in Britain (including the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 1999; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and touring, 2001-03; Imperial War Museum, 2003; Leeds City Art Gallery, 2009: Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, 2012) as well as in Ireland, Germany, France, Holland and the Czech Republic.
Hughie O'Donoghue was made an academician of the Royal Academy in 2009