by Judy Darragh for SCAPE Public Art Season 2016
Judy Darragh, based in Auckland, makes art that engages deeply with popular culture. Often producing works that re-use and restore existing materials, and have an active wit, a sense of the absurd and critique cultures of consumption. Stainless evolved after Darragh had visited the LA Car Museum, where she was taken by the folly and failure of the gull-winged DeLorean car (as seen in the Back to the Future films). This ‘fleet’ of objects made from stainless steel kitchenware offer a retro-themed Sci Fi vision of the future.
Judy Darragh is a prolific New Zealand artist renowned for her brightly coloured sculptural assemblages of found objects, recycled items, industrial materials, collage, photography, video, and poster art. Emerging as an artist during the 80s era of conspicuous consumption, Darragh’s work displayed a fondness for everyday objects and played with our views of material consumerism. ‘Kitsch’ and a strong association with localised nostalgia is at the essence of Darragh’s work. Her assemblages appear as structurally makeshift piles of ‘materials’, incorporating elements ranging from bottles, glassware and plastic to corks, feathers, tikis, beads, paint, flowers, paua and cake tins. It is this mass of media that form the basis of her two dimensional and three dimensional installations. Collecting is an integral part of Darragh’s work as she investigates the relationship between objects and their surroundings. It is, however, the process of making these large assemblages that is as important as the observation itself. She makes new from the old and provides objects with a fresh significance or value. Darragh alters form and function of her found objects and they are transformed in meaning with each shift in context; most often taken out of their traditional domestic interior and placed within the realm of an artistic space or shop window. It is this process of reinvention that is significant, our engagement with the objects and the value we place on them. Darragh is widely exhibited in New Zealand. Her works are held in various major collections including Auckland City Art Gallery and Govett Brewster in New Plymouth. In 2004 the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa featured a major retrospective of her work curated by Natasha Conland and entitled ‘Judy Darragh: So … you made it?’ Well known in artistic circles, Darragh is also involved with The Cuckoo Group (physicsroom.org.nz/archive/cuckoo) an artistic initiative that organises shows in various galleries or spaces.
A writer, speaker and long time teacher, the artist lives in Auckland.