Sam Ainsley RSA is an artist and teacher and until 2005 was Head of the Master of Fine Art (MFA) programme at Glasgow School of Art (GSA). She has forged a remarkable career within the visual arts sector nationally and internationally. From 1985 to 1991 she taught on the Environmental Art programme when she then co-founded the MFA course. She has since worked collaboratively with David Harding (ex Head of Environmental Art at GSA) and Sandy Moffat (ex Head of Painting at GSA) as AHM (Ainsley, Harding, Moffat) on symposia and other events and continues to work independently in her studio.


She is a respected and published spokeswoman for the visual arts and her own artwork is held by a number of public and private collections nationally and internationally. Ainsley has contributed to a broad range of visual art initiatives in Scotland and has served as a Board member for many arts organisations. She has exhibited in and curated independent exhibitions and undertaken residencies in numerous institutions and arts organisations across the USA, Australasia, Europe and the UK.


In 2017 Ainsley was inducted into the 'Outstanding Women of Scotland' by the Saltire Society. GSA awarded her an Honorary Doctorate (D.Litt) for her contribution to art and art education in 2018. In 2022 Ainsley had a solo exhibition titled Stories Real and Imagined in the Academicians' Gallery at the Royal Scottish Academy. In 2023-24, a major exhibition of her work is being held at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow; the exhibition continues until June 2024.