Sam Ainsley is an artist, teacher, curator and advocate for Scottish art. She taught for twenty-five years at the Glasgow School of Art, including five years in the groundbreaking Environmental Art Course. Subsequent to this she was the co-founder of the GSA’s Master of Fine Art course.The list of alumni for the time she served as head of the MFA course could be seen, to a large extent, to define Scottish contemporary art. Many of the graduates of Glasgow School of Art’s MFA course went on to win and/or be shortlisted for the Turner Prize and many other accolades.
As an artist she has exhibited internationally and continues to do so, most recently in Iceland. Her influence and ongoing contribution to art and education, has been recognised through her election to the Royal Scottish Academy last year and with a prestigious Saltire award as one of Scotland’s outstanding women. Glasgow School of Art recognised her contribution to art and art education with the award of an Honorary Doctorate (D.Litt.) in 2018.
“If the word ‘yes’ could rise up in flesh and blood, its human form would be that of Sam Ainsley. The power of affirmation is infinite, and Sam Ainsley is one of its sources. Generations of young artists who trained at Glasgow School of Art have risen high on the swelling waves of her encouragement and support. She is living proof that both praise and critical caution can be offered in the spirit of generosity. The mark she has left on others is indelible and readily acknowledged by those who have benefitted from her loyalty, support and advocacy. It is easily forgotten, however, that she is a formidable artist in her own right. Her remarkable achievements as a teacher have sometimes overshadowed – falsely and unfairly – her own creative output as a painter and printmaker. Infused with the spirits of socialism, feminism and Scottish cultural identity, her powerful images offer vivid and memorable visions of life as it might be, freed from conventional constraints. Anatomy and geography often join forces in these works, reminding us that life is lived within a dynamic network of interconnections, ranging from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. And red prevails: the colour of lifeblood, passion and borderless energy.” (John Calcutt, 2017).
The exhibition will run until the 16th November at New Glasgow Society, High Street.