Joyce Cairns

Artist Biography

Joyce W. Cairns RSA RSW MA(RCA) was born and brought up in Edinburgh. She studied painting at Grays School of Art, Aberdeen from 1966 -71 and The Royal College of Art, London 1971 -74. She was awarded a Fellowship at Gloucester College of Art and Design 1974-75 returning to London where she did the Art Teacher’s Certificate Course at Goldsmiths College, University of London 1975-76.

In 1976 she returned to Aberdeen where she taught Drawing and Painting at Grays School of Art until 2004 when she took early retirement to complete the vast body of work which culminated in ‘War Tourist’. It was exhibited for 3 months in 2006 at Aberdeen Art Gallery, attracting nearly 30,000 visitors.

Her work is mainly autobiographical based on past memories intertwined with present experiences, woven around the backcloth of the once fishing village of Footdee at the mouth of Aberdeen harbour where she has lived for the past 33 years. ‘War Tourist’ was based on her Father’s war backed up by extensive research following in his footsteps through Europe and Tunisia .

She is now moving to Dundee to a house and garden overlooking the Tay which will add a further dimension to her work

Joyce Cairns has been exhibiting since 1969 and her work is held in numerous private and public collections, both here and abroad.     

Selected Exhibitions 


2005             The Carnegie Trust for the Universities ,Grant for colour reproduction.

2005             The Maude Gemmell Hutchison Prize,RSA

2002              2nd Prize, Shell Expro, Aberdeen Artists Society

1997              Gillies Travel Bursary (Royal Scottish Academy) for trip to Poland

1995               Research Award (Robert Gordon University) One Year’s Sabbatical

1995               Research Award (RGU) Travel

1994               Premier Award, Shell Expro, AAS

1993               The May Marshall Brown Award, Royal Scottish Society for Painters in       watercolour.

1993                W & J Burness Award, RSA

1989                1st Prize, Morrison Portrait Competition, RSA

1985                Scottish Arts Council Bursary

1982                2nd Prize, Shell Expro, AAS

1978                Latimer Award, RSA

1974                 E Q Henriques Gift, Royal College of Art

1973                 First Prize, Shulton’s Competition, RCA

1972                 English Speaking Union Scholarship to USA

1972                 Anstruther Award, RCA

1971                Carnegie Travelling Scholarship, RSA

1st  Prize, Arbroath Art Competition

1970                  Robert Brough Scholarship, Grays School of Art

1970                    RSA Student Prize

1969                    Hospitalfield Prize


2011             Joyce Cairns Stand ,Aberdeen Art Fair

2008             Melange, Rendezvous Gallery, Aberdeen

2006             War Tourist Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen

2005             Monoprints Friends Room, The Royal Scottish Academy

2004             Postcards from Fittie, Rendezvous Gallery,Aberdeen

2003              Monoprints, Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen

2003              Sea Sirens, The Weem Gallery, Pittenweem Arts Festival

1998              Works on Paper, Rendezvous Gallery, Aberdeen

1995             Footdee Ikons, Roger Billcliffe Fine Art, Glasgow

1992             To The Lighthouse, Andrew Lamont Gallery, London

1993             The Guiding Light: Elektra Fine Art, Toronto, Canada

1991-92       Ship to ShoreTalbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh

& tour  Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen

Odette Gilbert Gallery, London

Kirkcaldy Art Gallery and Museum

An Lanntair, Stornaway

Inverness, Wick, Skye & Thurso

1986              New Paintings, 369 Gallery, Edinburgh

& tour  The Third Eye Centre, Glasgow

Artspace, Aberdeen

Perth Museum & Art Gallery (Perth Arts Festival)

1984             Recent Paintings, Artspace Galleries, Aberdeen

1982             Senior Common Room, Aberdeen University

1981             Paintings & Watercolours, English Speaking Union, Edinburgh

1981             Prints & Watercolours, Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen

1980             Recent Paintings, Compass Gallery, Glasgow


Aberdeen Art Gallery, BBC Television, Edinburgh City Arts Centre, Fife Regional Council, Fleming’s Bank, Glasgow City Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, The Scottish Arts Council, Grampian Television, Graves Art Gallery & Museum, Sheffield, Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, Aberdeen College, Lanarkshire County Council, Manchester City Art Gallery, McMaster Museum, Hamilton, Ontario, Mobil, Perth City Art Gallery & Museum, Shell UK, Tidaholm Government Office, Sweden, The Contemporary Arts Society, The Royal Scottish Academy, University of Aberdeen, University of Strathclyde, Unilever, Aberdeen Asset Management, The Scottish Army Museum (Edinburgh Castle), The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen Asset Management Asia, Singapore, The British Museum, The Victor Murphy  MemorialTrust.