The resultant work allows Salley the chance to recount her experiences of the aftermath of her scandal in her own words. In the film, Fujiwara and Salley are shown meeting professionals from public relations, advertising, and fashion companies as they seek to construct a new public image for her. Alongside the film, light boxes display fashion photographer Andreas Larsson’s pictures of Salley, which were taken as part of the project to rebuild her profile. While the show tackles public identity, female iconography, and Salley’s voice as an artist, the pair’s close working relationship—one in which the conventional power relationship has been overturned—no doubt aided their collaboration.
Necessarily, such teamwork between artists and teachers has a long, storied presence in art history, from Classical apprenticeships, to European academies of art, and the artist-teachers of the 19th century in Britain such as George Wallis, to this century, where there have been a plethora of successful artists spawned from successful teachers. In British art colleges, for example, there’s
teaching at Goldsmiths, and Frank Martin at what is now Central St Martins School of Art and Design.
If we track back earlier in an artist’s career, the condition of arts education in the state school sector has been a common source of criticism in Britain, and is one of the reasons why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s recent proposals for an “arts pupils premium”—extra funding for arts in state schools—was so popular. In a cash-strapped state education context, artistic mentoring might depend on class size. Harrow’s average is 13 students per class, under half the local average. There, at A-Level, when Salley and Fujiwara met, the student-teacher ratio was even better. Such conditions are perfect for artistic mentoring relationships to thrive.
“Harrow’s a boarding school, you’re with your teachers all the time,” says Fujiwara. “But it was more that the art that she had made herself was more interesting than what the other teachers had done.” He describes some of Salley’s work as resembling that of British painter
. “She introduced me to
and the idea of taking on characters and roles. She was the most inspiring voice around me at the time.”