Born in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Sophia’s work mirrors the richness and complexity of her childhood and early life in apartheid South Africa. She was born into an atmosphere that celebrated creativity and out of the box thinking. Her father, Bill, an artist, founded the Johannesburg Art Foundation (one of the first non racial art schools in South Africa), and ran it together with his wife Fieke, a transplant from the Netherlands. Sophia was immersed in the arts all her life.
Sophia’s journey overseas was instigated by a series of sponsored opportunities to attend workshops and residencies in the United Kingdom and the United States. The Hamlyn Foundation and the African Arts Trust sponsored her residency at the Gasworks in London, which led to an invitation to paint for a year in San Francisco at Yosemite Place. Having time to focus, and being in a new landscape, opened up new areas in her work. The need to have more of these circumstances brought her to Boston to finish her studies. Under the sponsorship of her patron Henny Kirshon, and the Art History Department at Tufts, she pursued her MFA, at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts. After graduating she received the Anne and Graham Gund award to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, in Maine.
She is the recipient of the Inaugural Hendricks Art Fund for Tufts Graduates (‘14); the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship for Painting (‘12), and the Artist’s Resource Trust (‘12).
Ainslie maintains a studio in Somerville and currently lectures in the College of Arts, Media and Design at Northeastern University.