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Don Binney studied at the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts from 1958 to 1961, graduating with a diploma. He taught at Mount Roskill Grammar School until 1966 and was awarded a QEII Arts Council Travel Fellowship in 1967. This enabled him to travel to the United States of America and Europe. In 1968, he returned to Aotearoa and was a finalist in the Benson and Hedges Art Award. He left New Zealand again in 1972 for Great Britain, travelling widely and returning in 1974. In 1975, he was a visiting lecturer at Elam and he was appointed a senior lecturer in 1978.

Binney first exhibited at the Ikon Gallery in 1963. From then until 1973, he was in the vanguard of young artists seen as leading the way towards the creation of a new kind of art particular to Aotearoa. For many, his images of local flora, fauna, and the western coastline of Te Ika-a-Māui the North Island created an expectation that, as the creator of a quintessential New Zealand-ness in painting, he would remain one of this country’s major artists. In fact, he saw his early acclaim evaporate and, in the 1980s, he turned his hand to writing novels. Only towards the end of his life did his reputation grow again. His works from the period 1963 to 1973 are especially highly regarded and prized.

Aotearoa New Zealand;
Date of birth
24 March 1940
Place of birth
Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa,
Date of death
14 September 2012
Place of death
Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa,


Pacific Frigate Bird III

1968, 1830 x 1520mm, Acrylic on canvas


Te Henga from Man’s Head III

1971, 1370 x 1670mm, Oil on canvas


Winter, Maungaroa

1981, 710 x 990mm, Charcoal and crayon on paper