Painter. Born in Kirkwall (Orkney), Cursiter was educated at Kirkwall Grammar School. He moved to Edinburgh, becoming an apprentice in a printing company before training at the Edinburgh College of Art. He joined the Cameronians in 1914 and fought in France, but ill-health brought a transfer to a field survey battalion. Cursiter developed a novel means of extracting information from air photographs and transferring details of enemy movements to maps much faster than had previously been possible. He left the army in 1919 with two mentions in dispatches and an OBE.
A futurist, Cursiter's works included The Sensation of Crossing the Street - the West End, Edinburgh (1913), The Regatta (1913), held by the National Gallery of Scotland and Villefranche (c.1920), painted in the South of France where he stayed in the years following the First World War. He also painted fine watercolour landscapes of East Lothian, Orkney and Shetland, and was responsible for the design of the St. Rognvald Chapel in St. Magnus' Cathedral (Kirkwall; 1965).
Cursiter became an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1927 and a full Academician in 1937, serving as their Secretary (1953-55). He also served as President of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (1951-52) and President of the Society of Scottish Artists. He was also the first Secretary of Royal Fine Arts Commission for Scotland. He was appointed Keeper of the National Galleries of Scotland in 1930, serving in this capacity until 1948. In the same year, Cursiter was made a Freeman of Kirkwall and the King's (later Queen's) Painter and Limner for Scotland.
He died in Stromness.