Joyce Cairns PPRSA

Joyce W. Cairns PPRSA is a Scottish artist and Past President of the Royal Scottish Academy.

Cairns' work is mainly autobiographical, based on past memories intertwined with present experiences, often set against the backdrop of the once fishing village of Footdee at the mouth of Aberdeen harbour where she lived for 33 years. She now lives in Dundee, working in a house and garden overlooking the Tay.


Born in Edinburgh, Cairns studied painting at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen (1966-71), and at the Royal College of Art (1971-74). Following a fellowship at Gloucester College of Art and Design she studied at Goldsmiths College, University of London. In 1976 she returned to Aberdeen to teach Drawing and Painting at Gray’s until 2004 when she left to complete a substantial body of work culminating in the exhibition War Tourist at Aberdeen Art Gallery.


Cairns was elected President of the Royal Scottish Academy in 2018 and was the first woman to hold the position in the history of the RSA.