Binnie Donovan paints while we talk. With a large, blank canvas on the floor, paints and fabrics are being played out to make a new creation, with bitumen toning.
At this stage, it’s still unknown what the end result will be, but most likely it will be Binnie’s signature style using bitumen coating and a female subject. Binnie has been painting and creating artwork all her life. Her ‘studio’ is a former grain shed from their property that was re-located many years ago to sit behind the house for Binnie to use. The 1950s shed has all the original flooring, walls and tin roof and is where Binnie works and stores her artwork. The lovely wide deck is a new addition to this impressive building. As she sits on the deck for the photographer to take some snaps, the sun is setting and it becomes such a beautiful, serene time of day. There would have to be no doubt that Binnie’s country surroundings provide a tranquil and motivating backdrop to her painting.
As a child, Binnie was always drawing something, mostly people, and after school Binnie studied commercial art where she was designing cornflake packets, but it wasn’t quite to her liking, and she turned her hand to canvas painting. Experimenting is the key, as Binnie “loves old fabrics and old laces” and has an original chest of drawers and rustic tins to store them all in. The fabric and laces are intertwined on the canvas amongst the paint and the bitumen toning that Binnie uses on most paintings. She has been using the bitumen coating for approximately 10 years and is still using the second tin she has ever purchased.
Her unique artwork has been exhibited in Goondiwindi, and at Toowoomba Grammar School, Downlands College, The Scots PGC College, New England Girls School and the Maison d’Art store in Toowoomba, as well as with fellow “Anteportas” in Brisbane. The nine individuals that make up the Anteportas are a connected group of artisans who exhibit their works of photography, jewellery and writing to raise money for charity. This year they will be exhibiting in the city centre and the money raised will go to Cystic Fibrosis Australia.
Flying Arts is also another organisation where Binnie has been involved with her art work. The Brisbane-based organisation offers learning and industry programs and workshops to practising artists in regional Queensland. Binnie has attended their workshops and exhibited twice in their annual exhibitions. She has been appreciative of this regional service. “There are really good tutors, great for country people to have access to quality teaching,” says Binnie.
With three to four paintings “on the go at one time”, Binnie is always learning and developing new ideas. Pictures from magazines can become an inspiration, and it could be years from that moment of inspiration to when the actual image is completed as an artwork.
Binnie is humble about her art and says “she doesn’t do it for the money, it’s just what she does”.
Words by Angela Clarke | Images by Mandie O’Shea