The First Women of the Royal Scottish Academy

Alice Strang

15th December 2021

Cairns, Joyce W., b.1947; Polish Journey
Cairns, Joyce W.; Polish Journey; Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture;


Two years ago the Royal Scottish Academy elected its first female President, setting an important historical marker after 192 years of history. In this lecture, Alice celebrates the work and influence of eight pioneering women, from Christina Robertson (1796-1854), the first female Honorary Member in 1829, to Joyce Cairns, the current President, who have led the way in making the Academy the progressive institution it is today, with equality central to its activities.


Alice is a freelance historian and curator of modern and contemporary art. For over 20 years she was a Senior Curator at the National Galleries of Scotland and, before that, a Specialist at Christie’s. She is a BBC Expert Woman and was made a Saltire Society Outstanding Woman of Scotland for her leadership of the 2015 exhibition and publication, ‘Modern Scottish Women: Painters and Sculptors 1885-1965’. She is on the committee of the Scottish Society for Art History and a member of the Scottish Women and the Arts Research Network.