Born in North Shields, Ainsley studied painting at Newcastle Polytechnic between 1974-1977. After graduating, Ainsley continued to work with tapestry and painting, and moved to Scotland to spend a year studying in the Tapestry Department of Edinburgh College of Art where she later took up a post as part-time lecturer in the department.
As an educator, Ainsley has taught at Glasgow School of Art since 1985 and co-founded the Master of Fine Art course at GSA in 1991, programme director from its inception until 2005. Ainsley has since been an external advisor to Newcastle University’s MFA programme.
We hope you can join us to hear more about Sam Ainsley’s work and her impressive contribution to arts education in the UK.
Sam Ainsley is an artist and teacher and until 2005 was Head of the MFA Programme at Glasgow School of Art. She has forged a remarkable career within the visual arts sector nationally and internationally. From 1985-1991 she taught on the Environmental Art programme under David Harding’s leadership when she then co-founded the Master of Fine Art course. She has since worked collaboratively with David Harding and Sandy Moffat as AHM and continues to work independently in her studio.
She is a respected and published spokeswoman for the visual arts and her own artwork is in a number of public and private collections nationally and internationally. Ainsley has contributed to a broad range of visual art initiatives in Scotland and has served as a Board member on many arts organisations including The Scottish Sculpture Trust and The Arts Trust of Scotland. She was appointed to the Council of the Scottish Arts Council in 1998 and Chaired the Visual Art Committee at the SAC for two terms of office. Her extensive International travel and invited role as a visiting artist and curator have enhanced her informal position as an international ambassador for Scottish Art and Artists.
She has exhibited in and curated independent exhibitions and undertaken residencies in numerous institutions and arts organisations across the USA, Australasia, Europe and the UK. She has been an external advisor to many MFA courses including the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Liverpool John Moores and Newcastle University and was the Visitor to the Royal Academy Schools in London. More recent presentations of her work include ‘New Scots’, RSA Edinburgh,,“Atlas of Encounters” at I Space Gallery, Chicago and Athens, “ Live your questions now” and “Studio 58” Mackintosh Museum, GSA and “After Growth and Form” at Glasgow Print Studio. In 2017 she was invited to have a one person exhibition at An Tobar Gallery on the Isle of Mull. A full colour catalogue is available.
Ainsley was also represented in two recent exhibitions in Edinburgh and Glasgow to mark the 30th anniversary of The Vigorous Imagination, a landmark exhibition held at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 1987. She was also elected to the Royal Scottish Academy and was inducted into the “Outstanding Women of Scotland” by the Saltire Society in 2017.