Barbara and Sarah Landstreet: Mother-Daughter Artist Superhero Duo

Local artist Barbara Landstreet held an art show and sale for budding collectors on Sunday, May 1. The exhibition featured her original watercolour paintings and was hosted by Landstreet’s daughter, local tech entrepreneur Sarah Landstreet at her home in Kitchener’s Rosemount neighbourhood off Victoria Street. 

“It’s all original artwork and it’s very affordable. The idea was to create something for people who are starting their art collections, but don’t have a big budget,” Sarah said.

Sarah Landstreet said she has been an avid art collector since her childhood. She said her mother would bring her along with trips to art museums and galleries for her mother’s shows. During the pandemic, Sarah said she missed being able to visit galleries to enjoy art and find moments for reflection.

“It was a cultural setting that was lost or muted. Seeing art and talking about art is such an enjoyable thing,” Sarah said.

Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Barbara moved to London, Ontario in 1969 for what she described as an adventure living with an uncle who had emigrated to Canada earlier. Barbara decided to make the move permanent after meeting her future husband at Western University and seeing the escalating sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

Barbara started painting in high school, but it was a trip to Southampton, Ontario in 1987 that she said sparked to focus on her art. Inspired by a watercolour class at Southampton Arts, Barbara took additional courses at Western University and participated in outdoor artist workshops to hone her craft. 

“I carried on and people kept encouraging me, so I kept going,” Barbara said.

In addition to training at Western, Barbara has studied at the James Watson Painting School in Belfast and the Cubertou Art Centre in St-Martin-Le-Redon, France. She has had solo and juried exhibitions in London, Ontario and Toulouse, France.

The exhibition and sale on May 1 showcased Barbara’s watercolour paintings of landscape scenes from across Ontario, including the Algonquin area, Southampton, and Halliburton. The sale featured over 75 pieces ranging from $50 to $75.

The idea to host the exhibition at Sarah’s home started with a career change for the founder and CEO of Georgette Packaging, Canada’s first carbon-neutral packaging company.

In April, Sarah sold the company to employees Kristopher Lewis and Jennifer Appleby Vines to focus on applying to medical school to become a doctor. The company’s offices are in a former art gallery space, and Barbara suggested holding a show there before Sarah left.

“At first, we thought it was a good idea, but then Sarah suggested that instead of intruding on their workplace, that we host it at her house instead. I’m just happy enough for people to come and look at the paintings,” Barbara said.

For Sarah, the exhibition is an opportunity to help more people learn about how to start collecting art and supporting artists. While there has been an increase in local artists growing their audiences, Sarah said there is still room for support and new ways of connecting artists and collectors. 

“There’s a big cultural shift where people are recognizing that there are all these talented people within the community. You can purchase wonderful art and you don’t have to have a huge budget. It helps you feel like you’re part of this world where you get to learn about and support the creative industries,” Sarah said.

Sarah and Barbara hope the exhibition is a catalyst to get more people interested in collecting art. Barbara added that the show reminded her of how she got started with buying and collecting art in London.

“That’s certainly how I started buying art myself way back in London at the art shows in the springtime. I thought this is just a no brainer, you can buy original paintings for a reasonable price,” Barbara said.