1940 - 2012
Born and raised in Auckland, Binney was educated in Parnell, Auckland, taking classes with John Weeks and R B Sibson, who became his good friend and guide to the field of ornithology. From 1958 to 1961, he studied at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, gaining a Diploma of Fine Arts. Binney’s tutors included Ida Eisa, James Turkington, Robert Ellis and Robin Wood. In 1963, he held his first solo exhibition at Ikon Gallery, Auckland and began teaching at Mount Roskill Grammar School, where he taught until 1966.
In bird-watching, Binney said he discovered a passage into the landscape and the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with it.
Binney described himself as a figurative painter concerned with the psychic metaphor of the environment. Working in oil, acrylic, charcoal, ink and carbon pencil, many of his works depict the west coast of Auckland and Northland, containing sea, sky, native birds, still life and occasionally, figures.
He was awarded an OBE for services to the arts in the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours. Binney died of a heart attack while in hospital in Aucklandfor an unrelated illness on 14th September 2012, at the age of 72, and was survived by his wife Philippa and daughter Mary
In 1965, Binney was included in a survey show of New Zealand painting, held in London and in the "Eight NZ Artists" touring show of Australian state galleries. In 1967, he was the recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council travel fellowship. He lived in Mexico, London, and Australia, but returned to teach at Elam, becoming the senior lecturer in Fine Arts in 1979.
Binney has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand and was the subject of a thirty-year survey show at the Fisher Gallery, Pakuranga in 1989. He also had a retrospective exhibition curated by Damien Skinner that toured the country from 2003 to 2004. His work is represented in many public collections including the Auckland Art Gallery, The University of Auckland and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Don Binney died of a heart attack in 2012 at the age of seventy three.