Painting is a natural form of expression to Jennifer Binnie who was born to creative parents – father a follower of Rudolph Steiner’s painting out of colour technique and craftswoman mother. She spent 5 years at art colleges (Eastbourne College of Art and design and Portsmouth Polytechnic) in the late 70’s/ early 80’s when, “British art schools were at their best. Studying fine art meant that you could continue to experiment in different media throughout the course and there were some amazing visiting lecturers including, Buce Lacey and Jill Bruce, Darrell Viner, Helen Chadwick, and Richard Wilson.” This environment encouraged Jennifer to expand beyond the bounds of the canvas or drawing board into the areas of performance, film and sculpture though paint was always a strong element of her work and would be integrated into these other areas.
Binnie moved to London in the early 80’s to share a squat with her partner, Grayson Perry, sister Christine Binnie, and artist Cerith Wyn Evans among others and here was able to devote most of her time to developing her painting alongside performance activities with the Neo- naturists, the performance art/cabaret group to which she was a central part along with Christine Binnie and Wilma Johnson. “Being able to live in a squat meant we could exist on a very low income and devote our lives to creative practice” At this time she met James Birch and began to exhibit and sell her paintings seriously for the first time.
When the squat ended in the late 80’s, Binnie moved back to her native East Sussex to live the rural idyll. Paintings from this time are clearly influenced by her passion for nature, animals and the Sussex landscape. Her work continues to expand beyond the canvas onto many surfaces of her home which was influenced early on by a visit to Charleston Farmhouse “before it became a museum and was just a tatty old farmhouse”
In the late 90’s, Binnie took a teaching qualification which lead to her working in a range of educational institutions in East Sussex. She especially enjoyed and was influenced by working with ‘disengaged young people’ who partly inspire a series of paintings connected to ancient myths associated with rites of passage as seen in Grimms Fairy Tales. Around this time, Jennifer also began to work with her sister Christine on establishing the Neo – naturist archive which has lead to recognition of the significance of the group as part of 1980’s subculture. The sisters also started to work together to create exhibitions and installations which reflect both their unusual childhood and experiences in 1980’s London.
Jennifer Binnie continues to live and work in her colourful home in Jevington, East Sussex.