Pulsford was born in Staffordshire to Scottish parents who settled in Dunfermline when he was a child. He attended Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) from 1933-37. Following the end of the Second World War, a number of Scottish artists turned their backs on traditional paintings styles and instead embraced modernism and abstraction. Alan Davie, William Turnbull, William Gear and Eduardo Paolozzi are recognised as the key artists of this group, but Pulsford, whose work is less well-known, may be regarded as ‘the fifth man’. He taught at ECA from 1952-60 and latterly at Canterbury College of Art.