While Thibert is a sculptor and Landsley a painter, the two men have developed a long-standing friendship and benefitted from an on-going exchange of ideas related to art. They exhibited together at STEPAC in 2006/2007 and in the show publication, David Bobier noted:
“Their professional commitments as influential teachers and distinguished practicing artists are exemplary. As teachers their ‘voices’ have contributed to the artistic careers of countless emerging arts practitioners across the country. As artists their work continues to challenge contemporary art theory and practice through a Modernist stance. Their work demands admiration for its exquisite, technical force and for providing the viewer with a combined experience of both the mythological and the real; the depiction of familiar iconicity with deep metaphorical meaning and a confident directness and simplicity of statement.”
On the idea of “chance” vs. “critical thinking” in creation, Landsley noted the importance of the role of “chance with an ability to be unprejudiced about what you’re working with” and the “idea of a developed critical faculty…..You need to grow, you need to take a risk moving from the known to the unknown…and hope the audience understands you are problem-solving.” Thibert added that it is vital to be “always looking for surprises…The artist can only understand the options that present themselves with a critical mind,” and artists “need to learn to be critical of their own work….Reducing things to their bare essence isn’t as easy as it seems…Once you’ve seen it, everything is easy.”
Landsley spoke about his first year at art school, discovering a painting of a hayloft and two boys which he thought of as “kitschy”, yet still remembers the “thick, juicy, golden hay” and that he “loved the brush work” and is today “still working in juicy colour.” In reply to a question about support for his decision to become an artist, Landley noted that he had been in the navy in WWII and his father wanted him to continue with a navy career. He was not in favour of Landley’s decision to pursue an art career and, in fact, didn’t speak to him for several years when he started art school.
As these two established artists reflected on their beginnings, one couldn’t help but wonder about the future stories of the students whose work presently hangs in the Art Centre. For some, their secondary school experiences and “Great Beginnings” may be the spark for a life devoted to art. It would be interesting to know which of them will have the necessary obsession needed to push the personal boundaries of creative learning and discovery as Thibert and Landsley have done.