Tote Bag Michael O'Connell


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The NGV design store have collaborated with local makers Home-Work to produce the tote and drawstring bag which have been proudly printed and made in Melbourne.

Michael O’Connell was born in 1898 in Dalton-in- Furness, Lancashire, Great Britain. He arrived in Australia in 1920 at the end of the First World War, initially working as a photographer and painter. He began producing printed fabrics in 1929. Working with his wife Ella, also an embroiderer and printmaker, O’Connell began producing blockprinted fabrics for furnishings and fashion garments.

Several Melbourne department stores and specialised shops sold their fabrics, which were recognised for their individuality and modernity. Colourfully executed early designs featured stylised nightclub, dancing and party scenes, while later work emphasised Australian flora and fauna, and adapted Aboriginal motifs in what were described at the time as “bush colours”.

In 1937 O’Connell and his wife established Mael Fabrics, so-called for the combination of their two first names.

Michael O’Connell (designer)

English 1898–1976, worked

in Australia 1921–37

Mael Fabrics, London


English est. 1937

Bellagio c. 1938

stencil, linocut, screenprint,

block printed linen

126.0 x 185.0 cm

National Gallery of Victoria,


Gift of Mrs Sylvia Dillon-

Gibbons, 1984

© Michael O’Connell/DACS,

London. Licensed by VISCOPY,