Paul Darragh left an illustrious career in New York City as an art director and graphic designer for big name brands including Nike, IBM and The New York Times to return home to Aotearoa and commit to becoming an artist full-time. Landing first in his hometown of Matamata before moving to Mount Maunganui where he continues to live and work, Darragh has carved out a painting practice that traverses both gallery and street art contexts. His new project Shape Up or Ship Out creates a space in which these two elements of his practice dramatically coalesce.
Shape Up or Ship Out takes the iconic shipping containers that dominate Tauranga’s local port as a point of departure, with the long and narrow nature of the gallery itself enhancing this reference. Visual symbols of bar codes, logos and QR Codes are combined and remixed with national and maritime flags to encompass the wider language of the global shipping network. While the exhibition’s title makes a direct reference to this initial inspiration for the show, Darragh also uses it to address the reality of being an artist and the associated ‘hustle’; it is his continued work in commercial design that funds his career as a practicing artist.