Artist Sam Ainsley has first major exhibition in Glasgow in over 30 years

Artist Sam Ainsley has first major exhibition in Glasgow in over 30 years

The first major institutional show in Glasgow for Sam Ainsley, Wednesday is Cobalt blue, Friday is Cadmium red, will be presented by Glasgow Life’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) this winter.

It is the first such show for Ainsley since her 1987 solo exhibition – Why I Choose Red at the Third Eye Centre (now Centre for Contemporary Art, CCA). Featuring acrylic paintings on canvas, framed prints, shaped acrylic canvas works and a wall drawing, this show is a deeply personal culmination of recent work that will make a powerful statement about who Ainsley is, and draws strands together from nearly 50 years of art practice.

An important show for her, it arrives on a wave of interest in her work since her solo show at An Tobar, Tobermory in 2017. In the last 12 months alone she has had solo presentations at the Royal Scottish Academy, Leeds Arts University, and is included in the major Tate Britain group show Women in Revolt! which opens later this year.

Sam said: “I am really excited to be working with GoMA for my first one person exhibition in Glasgow since Why I Choose Red in 1987. I feel it encapsulates almost all of the concerns and ideas I have worked with for many years- it is a sort of summation of a life-time's work.”

Sam Ainsley’s interest in the human body (especially the female body, however abstracted) and its relationship to the world in which we live has been at the core of her work and has remained constant despite shifts in the focus of her attention over the years:
“My parallel interest in relationships between the natural world and the human body, maps and mapping has also been consistent as has a fascination with scale; both the microscopic world (the very small) and the macroscopic (very large ie. the world seen from above). The relationship of our bodies to landscape and the man-made world ie. trees seen as the lungs of a city, rivers as arteries and so on has long fascinated me. Many of my works are also influenced by literature, poetry and geo-politics. The body has become a kind of landscape for me, familiar and with powerful memories. Imagining the body as a landscape or as a mirror of the world that sustains us can be difficult in the centre of a city, but I try to relate these thoughts to the man-made world too.”

Sam Ainsley’s work is also recognisable for her powerful use of colour, particularly her reds. Her first solo show was named after Hugh McDiarmid's intensely political poem 'Why I Choose Red'. Where the final line reads "....But, best reason of all, a man in a red shirt can neither hide nor retreat." - to Ainsley’s mind the man in this poem is also equally woman.
Red for her is passion, joy and love but it is also fire, blood and the colour of revolution. Her work is joyous, bold and celebrates passion and imagination but always deeply politically and socially conscious in meaning that resonates through the titles of the work and the research present in each painting.

Wednesday is Cobalt blue, Friday is Cadmium red has been supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

Sam Ainsley - Wednesday is Cobalt blue, Friday is Cadmium red
Opening event Saturday 25 November, 2 - 4pm
Exhibition runs 25 November 2023 – 10 March 2024
Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) | Royal Exchange Square | Glasgow | G1 3AH


Photo: Sam Ainsley in her studio, 2022. Photo: Alexander Hoyles.