Reaping the Whirlwind

Sam Ainsley


In the 1980s, Ainsley was one of the group of young Scottish artists, loosely known as the New Glasgow Boys and Girls, who were making waves on the international art scene through their radical approach to figurative painting. Recognition came early with the 1987 ground breaking exhibition The Vigorous Imagination at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA). Reaping the Whirlwind was in the exhibition and inspired a huge banner, which was hung on the façade of the SNGMA. Other artists in the New Glasgow Boys and Girls group included Stephen Campbell, Stephen Conroy, Ken Currie, Gwen Hardie, Peter Howson, Keith Mcintyre and June Redfern, all of whom are represented in the Fleming Collection. 

Reaping the Whirlwind encapsulates Ainsley’s feminist standpoint as it refers to the fate of the patriarchy after millennia of "male aggression, male competitiveness and male greed”.  Its nemesis is the onset of Warrior Woman "bursting free to be true to her own self and fulfilling her true potential.”  

  • Artist

    Sam Ainsley

  • Date


  • Medium

    Acrylic, oil pastel and ink

  • Object number


  • Dimensions unframed

    60.3 × 85.1 cm

  • Dimensions framed

    63 × 87 × 3.4 cm

  • Copyright

    Ⓒ The Artist. Courtesy Hugh Watt and John McCann


Sam Ainsley, born 1950

Born in North Shields, Ainsley studied at Newcastle Polytechnic and Edinburgh College of Art. She has been at the heart of contemporary art in Scotland since graduating in 1978. From the early 1980s and the 1990s she was tutor on the legendary environmental art course at Glasgow School of Art, which trained a generation of Scottish Turner prize winners, led by conceptual artist, Douglas Gordon. She co-founded the MFA post-graduate programme at the GSA and served as its head until 2006.