About Sam Ainsley
Academic Puzzles and Pale Answers 
Canvas, acrylic, cotton binding, wooden embroidery hoop, light sensitive emulsion, diameter 186 cms
Donated by the artist 1995.
The title of this work comes from a poem written by the American poet, Barbara Novak. It is a self-portrait in which the artist wears a Mexican embroidered jacket, similar to those worn by the Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. Sam Ainsley is currently Head of the Master of Fine Art Course at Glasgow School of Art and she writes that "the architectural image at the top is a reference to the 'Academy' and the sense of surveillance I feel in relation to operating within that structure". The pinned gashes across her face refer to the sense of split identity she has felt about her 'public' and 'private' self. According to Ainsley, the public realm is often seen as masculine and the domestic space as female, and this is the concept, which she is challenging in her work. She has used an embroidery hoop in a number of paintings in order to focus attention on the centre of the work.
Red Cocoon 
Screenprint, 70 x 50 cms
Donated by the artist to 'Cambridge: Glasgow - Ten Prints for New Hall' (Hughson Gallery, Glasgow, May 2000).
In celebration of Glasgow's 1999 title 'UK City of Architecture and Design', Glasgow Print Studio invited twelve artists to contribute to a portfolio of prints titled HABITAT. The definition given was 'the normal abode of an animal or plant: the physical environment of any community; the place where a person or thing can usually be found'. Ainsley's long-standing alliance with the colour red (her solo exhibition at Third Eye Centre, Glasgow in 1987 was called Why I Choose Red) gains powerful momentum in association with such a definition, resulting in Red Cocoon.