Cover image of the review

Sweeney Reed and Strines Gallery

22 Dec 2018
Heide Museum of Modern Art 25 Aug - 24 Feb 2019

Melbourne’s favourite outta-town gallery hits peak-Heide for its summer shows. Heide’s dedicated purpose, a laser-like focus on the circle around patrons John and Sunday Reed, has been disarmingly effective. The propaganda research on the couple is now unparalleled in Australian art history. Controversially, I have no problem with this. I know many do—Sidney Nolan for one would puke in his grave upon learning how he has been absorbed into the institutions’ mythology. Dedicated art museums, in which small institutions are devoted to one artist (or one group) are common outside of Australia. I might be exhausted by those same two-dozen Albert Tucker photographs showing the young Reeds and their kept-artists, but I’m not about to blame Heide for flogging them.

Sweeney Reed and Strines Gallery is devoted to the circle around the Reeds’ son, Sweeney, via the two galleries he directed: Strines (say it in your ocker voice; the 1960s version of ‘Strayans’), on the corner of Faraday and Rathdowne Street, Carlton, run from 1966-70; and the eponymous Sweeney Reed Galleries, on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy from 1972-75. This is not Heide’s first exhibition on Sweeney, his own artwork was shown in a retrospective curated by Max Delany. But that was over twenty years ago, so the present exhibition is more than due.

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