Joyce W Cairns PRSA DEd(hc) HRA HRHA HRWA HRBA RSW MA(RCA) (b 1947) is one of the UK’s most significant artists. Based for many years in the village of Footdee, beside Aberdeen harbour, and now by the River Tay, Dundee, Cairns’ distinctive and humane work feels more relevant than ever in a “post-truth” world. Our complicity in world events and the need for personal reconciliation with the past are powerful themes throughout her work.


Cairns’ paintings, drawings and original prints are full of psychological intensity and emotional charge, tackling subjects of humanity, war and collective memory. She is a masterful draughtswoman, creating dreamlike, figurative compositions that reflect the complexity of human experience.


Cairns’ extraordinary body of work, including her War Tourist series, reveals her ability to convey the resilience of ordinary lives in the face of internal and external conflict. Inspired by German Art of the Weimar period including Max Beckmann, George Grosz and Otto Dix, Cairns’ uncompromising vision and acute sensitivity sets her apart.


Joyce W Cairns studied painting at Grays School of Art, Aberdeen and the Royal College of Art, London. In 2018 Cairns was elected President of The Royal Scottish Academy (the first woman to hold post in 192 years).


Cairns' work can be found in public collections including; Aberdeen Art Gallery, The Scottish Arts Council, BBC Television, Edinburgh City Arts Centre, Fife Regional Council, Fleming’s Bank, Glasgow City Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, Grampian Television, Graves Art Gallery & Museum, Sheffield, Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, 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 National Museums of Scotland, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen Asset Management,Asia, Singapore, The British Museum, The Victor Murphy Trust, Pier Arts Centre, Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, The Maritime Museum, Irvin, New Hall Art Collection, Cambridge and private collections world wide.