Edinburgh artist Joyce W Cairns is elected to prestigious post

Joyce W Cairns is the first woman to hold the Academy's Presidency. Picture: Jon Savage
Joyce W Cairns is the first woman to hold the Academy's Presidency. Picture: Jon Savage
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RENOWNED Edinburgh artist Joyce W Cairns has been elected President of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture.

An internationally acclaimed painter, Cairns took up office after Arthur Watson PPRSA came to the end of his six-year presidency. She is the first woman to hold the position in the 192-year history of the academy.

Born in the Capital, Cairns studied painting at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, from 1966-71, and at the Royal College of Art, London, from 1971-74.

Following a fellowship at Gloucester College of Art and Design she studied at Goldsmiths College, University of London and in 1976 she returned to Aberdeen to teach Drawing and Painting at Gray’s School of Art until 2004, when she left to complete a substantial body of work culminating in the exhibition War Tourist at Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Elected an Associate of the Academy (ARSA) in 1985 and Academician (RSA) in 1998, Cairns has contributed to the achievements of the academy in recent years, serving on committees and aiding the implementation of change seen during the presidencies of Ian McKenzie Smith PPRSA, Bill Scott PRSA (1935-2012), and, most recently, Arthur Watson her predecessor.

Cairns brings her wide-reaching experience as an exhibitor, teacher and promoter of the visual arts to her new position and promises to maintain the high standards established by her recent predecessors and upheld under the directorship of Colin Greenslade. She henceforth takes up the post-nominal letters PRSA.

Cairns said: “As a teenager, instead of going dancing, I would spend my meagre pocket money to view the Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition; little did I imagine that one day I would end up as the President. I am very honoured that the people I most respect and admire – my fellow Academicians – have seen fit to elect me as their President.

“I will do my best to be worthy of their trust. Arthur Watson PPRSA has been an exceptional, dedicated and perceptive President and is a hard act to follow.”

Colin Greenslade, Director of the Royal Scottish Academy, said: “Joyce has a long and illustrious career in art.

“As a painter she is at the top of her game with significant exhibitions and accolades to her name. As a lecturer at Gray’s School of Art she nurtured and supported the burgeoning careers of many young artists, many of whom have gone on to great acclaim themselves.”

Mr Greenslade added: “She has been a long-time member of the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour. She has recently been made an Honorary Member of the Royal Society of British Artists and was the first female President of Aberdeen Artists Society. Joyce is the 22nd President to hold office at the academy.”

*The Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture promotes excellence in contemporary art and architecture.