Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Don Binney, 1940-2012

Kotare Over Hikurangi

"In the first years of the 1960s, there emerged from Auckland University's School of Art several painters who have since made considerable contributions to New Zealand painting. Amongst them . . . Don Binney.

"Binney works in an extremely hard-edged style that defines and makes obvious his forms. At first he used what he describes as a 'token landscape' to act as background to the birds whose forms were then his concern, but gradually the landscape, with the 'brilliant nervous quality' of its light, has assumed equal and often prime importance."
M.Y. New Zealand Art: Painting 1950-1967, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, N.Z. 1968

Tui Over Te Henga

from The Dead Presidents
pelican dreaming , 6/12/2004
I heard about the assassination of John F. Kennedy whilst I was riding on the small bus that then crossed the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand from Whitianga to Thames.

A narrow road in a temperate rain forest. Most times only wide enough for the bus. Branches scraping the roof. Few passengers.

The driver had a little transistor radio. Reception was, understandably, crappy at best. Scratchy. But through it all, breaking into the music, came a severe & oh so serious voice. "Stand by for an important news item." Repeated. Then, "The President of the United States, John F. Kennedy has just been assassinated."

Because of the dateline this was the morning of Saturday, November 23 in Aotearoa. Hearing the news anywhere would have caused shock, but to hear it in such surroundings was utterly bizarre. & distressing. Even to someone like myself whose politics were left of left, JFK was a figure of hope. Vietnam was still to move from S.E. Asia's equivalent of off-off-off Broadway. The Cold War was still the main occupant of the world stage. The Bay of Pigs was someone else's fuckup. The Cuban missile crisis had been resolved because of JFK's steely resolve & we were all breathing a little easier. Frank O'Hara was still alive. Kruschev was still coming on the right day!

We changed buses & headed for Auckland where we were to stay at the house of some friends who had gone away a couple of days earlier & who had told us where they'd left the key. Drove into Auckland to a main street dotted with newspaper billboards – yes, they still had afternoon newspapers in those days – that proclaimed PRESIDENT KENNEDY ASSASSINATED. Not many people around, only the billboards.

Caught a taxi to our friends' house. Went inside. First thing we saw was a newspaper billboard on the wall. AMERICAN PRESIDENT ASSASSINATED. Freaked out, totally & utterly. How, if they'd been away for the last two days, could this have got there? Moved closer. Found it to be a reproduction of the billboard announcing Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Did not breathe any easier.
The friends whose house we stayed at, Don & Judy Binney.


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