Judy Darragh was originally educated as a designer at Wellington Polytechnic, receiving her Diploma in Visual Communication and Design in 1978. After this, her career underwent a change of direction, and she re-trained at Auckland Secondary Schools Teaching College, graduating with a Diploma in Teaching in 1980. Darragh continued to live and work in Auckland, teaching and developing her artistic practice. She was a founding member of the seminal artist-run space Teststrip in 1992, along with Giovanni Intra, Daniel Malone and merit gröting, amongst others.
Darragh’s work is based around the process of collecting, repurposing and combining objects and materials sourced from op-shops, garage sales and markets. Using her collecting as a foundation, Darragh has developed an artistic practice which incorporates assemblage, installation, collage, poster, film and video work. Her work is characterised by a signature “kitsch” aesthetic, drawing on 1970s and 80s domestic styles and fashions, and often operates in, or comments on, the boundary between art and craft.
She has been a board member at Auckland’s Artspace gallery, lectured at the Elam School of Fine Arts as well as Auckland University of Technology, and served on the Auckland City Council’s Advisory Panel for Public Art. Darragh has exhibited widely both within and outside New Zealand, including a major retrospective of her work, So… you made it? at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, in 2004.