Born in 1987 in Ireland as youngest of three siblings and son of two professional chefs. In the early stages of his life he had little exposure or interest in the arts until the age of 15 where he began juggling and dancing. In 2006, as he finished school, Darragh packed his bags for Berlin to attend a full time programme at the Jonglier Katakomben School of Juggling. In 2008, attended the Academy for Circus and Performance Art. During this time, he developed his own object manipulation practice, and did extensive dance, acrobatic and performance training. Darragh completed his education with a Bachelor Degree in Circus Arts in 2012. Late 2012 Darragh started creating Fragments of a Mind which premiered in October 2015. He was selected as a 2014 Jeunes Talents de Cirque: Circus Next laureate and received the Circus Project Award. In 2013 Darragh created The Whistle which premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival 2014.
Darragh teaches at different professional institutions around Europe: FLIC (Italy), ACAPA (Netherlands), Die Etage (Germany), Circus Factory (Ireland), and was selected for the Next Generation Award in 2017 by the Arts Council. Darragh received the Circus Bursary Award in 2018. He premiered his new work STICKMAN at Cirqu’Aarau in Switzerland in 2019.
What did you do with your Bursary award?
My bursary award went towards facilitating new threads of research for future projects. This involved collaborating with different international artists on projects that are outside or on the edge of my contemporary circus practice. I worked with circus and visual artist Andrea Salustri on using balance to draw and leave traces on canvas. This is building up to a new project in 2020 where I will present this work in galleries and exhibition spaces. I collaborated with several artists, primarily Benjamin Richter on developing IASG — the Improvised Abstract Strategy Game — which I hope to release as an open source project aimed to be a creative tool to choreographers, actors, architects and game players alike. I also worked with Bogdan Illouz on developing material for a future project where we tried to develop different methods for writing a combination of juggling and language. We hope focus on this late 2020, early 2021.
What has receiving a Bursary award meant to you as an artist/for your career?
This has been a welcome indicator of how I am moving in new directions with my work, and how little it makes sense anymore to define my practice by categorising it. While my circus practice still holds strong in my day to day routine, by changing the context I create in has allowed me to find new influences and new audiences. It is also a solid sign that my national Arts Council supports and values the work I am doing as an artist. I hope to continue to use this support and deliver new and provoking ideas to Irish and international audiences.
How would you describe your creative process?
I recently realised I am very adept at experiencing what I imagine — often to my own detriment! In an artistic context this allows me to imagine how it would feel to experience ideas I have not yet seen before. In most cases I am able to accurately re-construct the idea in reality. This means that these days I spend a large chunk of my time practicing particular skills to be able to perform them, and the rest of the time I distract myself by cooking, dancing, designing games and then simply wait for ideas to come so I can pluck them out of the air and quickly write them down.
What is the best piece of advice you received as an emerging artist?
I used to love this quote from Einstein: "Inspiration comes only when it finds you working." However I think I look at it quite differently now. I might change it to “Inspiration is there, you just have to notice."
What or who has influenced your practice the most?
Right now: my stick. Exploring object balancing over the last two years has brought me into a whole new world of physical exploration. It has required me to engage with parts of my body I had little to no connection with before, and has brought me into several directions I could never have thought of had I not dived so deep into this practice.