Judy Darragh’s multi-disciplined and multi-media works have transformed found, recycled, industrial, and domestic materials into new contexts and new meanings. In the process she has transported the imaginations of many New Zealanders and provided them with a new way of seeing. She has made a significant contribution to the visual arts in New Zealand.
Growing up she was surrounded by the ‘joy of making’ and from an early age she was drawing and making things from craft materials. She emerged as an artist in the 80s – an era of conspicuous consumption when sustainability and environmental awareness were still background issues – after completing a Diploma in Visual Communication at Wellington’s School of Design, and subsequently a Diploma in Teaching.
Judy’s early art pieces brought together made and found objects into what she has described as ‘shrines’; brightly coloured, sculptural assemblages of found objects, recycled items, industrial materials, collage, photography, video, and poster art.
Collecting is an integral part of her work as she investigates the relationship between objects and their surroundings. She makes new from the old and provides objects with a fresh significance or value. She has found the uneven line between high and low-brow culture and arts and crafts. In a career that spans 30 years, Judy continues on a trajectory of creativity applying a fresh lens to a huge variety of mediums.
She is widely exhibited in New Zealand and in 2004 the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa featured a major retrospective of her work.