JENNIFER BINNIE: THE OPIUM DEN
PRIVATE VIEW: Friday 4th April 2014, 7pm
PERFORMANCE NIGHT: Monday 7th April 2014, 7pm FREE
Christine Binnie 20 mins ‘Canapes’
Jason Williams and Johannah Henderson 30 mins ‘Expect a Table’
The Contessa and Dr. Jill Westwood 30 mins ‘Film, Sound and Live action’
Finale with The Contessa, Dr. Jill, Jennifer Binnie, Liz Finch and Others 5 mins ‘Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves’
NEO NATURIST FILMS ‘Chairman Mau Performance, The Spanish Anarchy Centre 1st May 1982’ 4.30 ‘Private View’ dir. Wilma Johnson 13.0
FILM NIGHT: Thursday 10th April 2014, 7pm FREE
Jennifer Binnie in conversation with William Fowler
JENNIFER BINNIE ‘Forest Film’ 6.0 ‘Autumn in Folkington’ 3.30 ‘Grayson/ Flowers/ Jewels’ 3.0 ‘Don’t you want me baby’ 3.30 ‘White Horse’ 4.0 ‘Cats’ 4.30
GRAYSON PERRY ‘The Poor Girl’ 50.0 ‘Crowndale Road’ 10.0
JENNIFER BINNIE and GRAYSON PERRY ‘Bungalow Depression’ 3.0
CHRISTINE BINNIE ‘A Wannock Weekend’ 13.30
JAMES BIRCH ‘Eggs and Bacon’ 10.0
JILL WESTWOOD Jill and Christine visit Berlin 1982 6.0
EXHIBITION: Sat 5th April – Sat 12th April, Mon – Sat, 12 – 6pm
In the summer of 1984 artists Jennifer Binnie and Grayson Perry created an opulent and fantastical Opium Den in the basement of their infamous squat on Crowndale Road, Mornington Crescent, London.
‘We painted the walls dark red and the lino tiled floor black. The ceiling was already very dark with the rafters showing through. Then we found heavy old velvet curtains for the window and various bits of fabric to cover the old sofa. We had an Indian rug which went on the floor and we hung paintings all over the walls and carefully placed objects on the shelves and mantel piece including some of Grayson’s new creations from the pottery class. I think we were quite pleased with the effect.’
This was a unique time, the Warren Street and Carburton Street squats, occupied by luminaries such as Boy George, Marilyn, David and Stevie of Bodymap fame, Cerith Wyn Evans, Steven Jones and many others, had recently ended and the illustrious tenants had largely been rehoused in council flats on Crowndale Road. The ‘Opium Den’ became a focal point for many outrageous parties, screenings and performances attracting avant-garde film-makers, artists and eccentrics.
Jennifer Binnie together with Wilma Johnson and her sister, Christine Binnie had earlier formed the earthy, anarchic performance collective The Neo Naturists, who performed body painted, ritualistic cabarets. They were an integral part of the seminal 80’s London art/club scene, however with their wild and boisterous brand of exhibitionism, they offered an alternative to the archness of the underground poseurs. Combining ideas of ancient rituals with contemporary life they were consciously unfashionable and independent.
In these chaotic cabarets, the three core members were often joined by close friends, boy/girlfriends or a whole crowd of them all painted and naked and were performed in night clubs and galleries including Heaven, Le Beat Route, Notre Dame Hall, Alternative Miss World, Bruce Lacey’s Fairy Fayre, James Birch Gallery, Portland Quarry, the Spanish Anarchy Centre, the Camden Palace, Michael Clark’s ballets and of course the ‘Opium Den’. The core three were often joined by close friends, boy/girlfriends or a whole crowd of them all painted.
Alongside the many Neo Naturist activities and her painting practice Jennifer Binnie was also busy making sensitive and intimate super 8 films which they would show at the ‘Opium Den’ parties, some of which have been recently restored and archived by the BFI.
Jennifer Binnie will recreate the ‘Opium Den’ in The Horse Hospital and will host a series of screenings and performances within it, capturing some of the energy and spirit of the time.
They were evicted from the squat in March 1986.