In 1976 Binney produced his masterpiece Old Wellington Synagogue, returning to a spiritual theme. In this painting a white spiritus sanctus soars elegantly above a symmetrical Jewish synagogue bisected with a series of lines and angles evoking Wellington suburban concrete retaining walls. The painting is carefully composed in three vertical bands similar to Kauri Triptych, Te Henga, 1969: 1) tabernacle below, grounded with man; 2) dove above, with God in the heavens; 3) a center band with a cluster of simplified Wellington hillside buildings. Binney is drawing together the nature/divine vs human/religious themes of his earlier ‘sanctuary’ paintings with the addition of suburban habitation dividing the two.
We view in this work the emergence of his environmental politics fed by the Waitakere developments. It is Binney’s appeal to a civil discourse as a player in nature between God and spiritual man -environmentalism gets a social conscience. The buildings exhibit Binney’s characteristic simplification: flat plains and lines of colour. In direct contrast the wisps of bush, rolled back by suburban sprawl, are lush and textured and the dove is toned to convey a plump healthy body of life and health. The beak and face are carefully denoted against the flat weak blue sky. The painting is rich in parochial identification, but fused with Binney sentiment, faith and politics.