Airey was a Slade scholar, where, under the tutelage of Henry Tonks, her draughtsmanship excelled. She was elected to numerous artistic societies, and by the time of her first one-man show in 1907 at the Carfax Gallery, she was considered one of the leading female artists of her generation. At the outbreak of the First World War she became a war artist, and with Dame Laura Knight, was commissioned to record life at Witley Camp, Surrey, for the Canadian infantry. Her war work also included recording scenes of heavy engineering and armourment production such as Shop for Machining 15 inch shells (Imperial War Museum), which often showed women at the forefront of production. Still lives were a recurring theme throughout her career and displayed her virtuosity as a painter.