At age 21, Sweeney Reed—the adopted son of Heide founders John and Sunday Reed—opened Strines in Carlton (1966–70), and five years later launched Sweeney Reed Galleries in Fitzroy (1972–1975). Both galleries promoted a new wave of daring abstractionists now considered significant figures in the history of Australian art. Among them were hard-edge painters Sydney Ball, Col Jordan and Trevor Vickers; visual poets Russell Deeble and Alex Selenitsch; as well as artists exploring a pop vernacular like Mike Brown, Ken Reinhard and Gareth Sansom.
Sweeney Reed and Strines Gallery focuses on the relatively brief yet fruitful periods in which these galleries were operational, drawing works from Heide’s collection and further afield. The exhibition also celebrates Sweeney Reed’s own work as an artist, concrete poet and small press publisher, and considers the role of female artists during a time when they were under-acknowledged—including Lesley Dumbrell, Sandra Leveson, Margaret Worth and Bridget Riley.