RSA: New Contemporaries Opening Night Outfit

Pattern: Named Pattern’s Vanamo Cocktail Dress (just the skirt part)

Fabric: Linen viscose blend from Fabric Godmother

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I studied painting at art school, graduating last July. During our end of year Degree Show in June I was (to my great surprise) selected to exhibit in the Royal Scottish Academies annual New Contemporaries exhibition (RSA:NC) which showcases the work of (apparently) ‘up and coming’ young Scottish artists just graduated from the five art schools in Scotland. Needless to say this is an amazing opportunity and I was – and still am – completely gob smacked to have been selected.

A photo of me and my work at the private press view earlier in the day. L-R ‘In the Midst of Life’ ‘The Likes of You and I’.

Creating new work for the show hasn’t been without it’s dramas – working alone (in all weathers, in a stable, in your parents garden) is totally different to working alongside friends and course mates in shared (and centrally heated…) studio spaces at uni and takes a whole lot more motivation and self belief. It’s very very easy as an ‘artist’ (see, I even struggle with identifying myself as such – do I really deserve the title?) to allow self doubt to creep in and convince you everything you create is terrible. Whilst this did happen at uni, the support of other people all going through the same thing was really helpful. Saying that, although it couldn’t replace actually being in the studio with them, I don’t think I could have made the work for the show without the constant long distance support, pep talks and reassurance from the wonderful Emily and Jenni, who were both also showing in RSA:NC. (They’re work is totally amazing.)

Anyway, enough sappiness from me, all I’m trying to say, in a long winded manner is: a) if you were in Edinburgh in March and went along to the show, yay! b) I couldn’t create the paintings I do without the support of my lovely arty friends, and c) there was a fancy opening night so I made a fancy outfit.

And so, the fancy outfit: Named’s Vanamo 2 piece cocktail dress. Fancy, but not too fancy – an ‘I can still breath, move, walk and talk’ sort of fancy.

Do excuse my peely walley sun deprived legs…

First off – and I’m going to be smug about this – check out my pretty near perfectly pattern matched front and back centre seams. Cutting was a painstaking and slow process, carefully measuring and lining up pieces, but oh so worth it. It would take a very beady eyed so and so to notice the little bits out here and there (due to size adjustments and what not) on the back seam when I’m wearing the skirt. Besides from the pattern matching, and thanks entirely to Named’s wonderfully clear instructions, the skirt came together with little hassle, the main hassle being (besides pattern matching) from the fabric, which frays like mad. But what can you do, it’s gorgeous fabric.

I should also just point out though that my side seams don’t match – I didn’t have enough fabric to worry about them and, quite frankly, is anyone really going to notice?! So long as the front and back were matched ok I certainly wasn’t going to also worry about the sides. Life’s too short and all that.


Secondly, and I should really mention this: the top. I have not, strictly speaking created a 2 piece cocktail dress, just the bottom half of it. My intentions were to make the entire outfit but a) I felt the fabric was just too much for a two piece top and bottom, I simply couldn’t envision in my minds eye it working, and b) I spent so long starting and stopping the skirt I ran out of time to make the top. No kidding, it took me almost two full months to complete this skirt, not because it was hugely challenging and took me hours to work out, no, I’m simply super good at procrastinating. I can’t tell you how many garments I started whilst making this skirt; some finished, most still incomplete. I’m going to blame it on being super creatively inspired at the moment, spurred on to create lots of fabulous things: it sounds better than admitting to having a wandering attention span.


In true procrastinator style it’s actually taken me over a month to get around to blogging this outfit – the opening was the start of March… But it was such a whirl I didn’t manage to get any proper glammed up photos on the night, so have had to make do with some hasty Sunday afternoon photos instead!

The front hem is even really – Β my posture clearly isn’t!

One of my paintings from the show is now in London, ready to be exhibited at the ‘New Scottish Artists’ show, hosted by the Fleming Collection. It’s a show featuring 15 Scottish art graduates from last year so it’s very exciting (and very surreal) to have been selected to show in it. If you’re in London between the 21st April and 6th May do pop along to DRAF Studio in Camden – it should be a really diverse and interesting exhibition (and it’s free..).

Anyway, that’s all for now – have a lovely week!

Hannah x

9 thoughts on “RSA: New Contemporaries Opening Night Outfit

  1. Pattern chopping and changing is creativity in itself. If you can’t find what you want make it up yourself and enjoy being original.
    I’m going to London and would love to go to see your painting, of course it was far too convenient for me to go to the gallery in edinburgh? ?
    When does the exhibition run until?
    I said before that I thought you’re paintings were great, and they are, and far more important people obviously think so too. Make the most of your talent and opportunities and don’t be too Scottishly modest!
    Enjoy it all.


    1. Thank you so so much – that is so kind of you to say and means so much to me! The show in Edinburgh closed last week (it’s been such a hectic month I never got around to mentioning it on here with dates etc., sorry!). I do need to get out of that ‘talk yourself down’ Scottish habit and learn to just enjoy these opportunities without having to constantly pinch myself to check it’s actually real and happening to me. I’d love to know what you think of the show in London if you make it along! I realise I’ve rambled out a bit of a reply, but in all serious, it means the world to have someone tell you they like your work so thank you πŸ™‚


  2. Congrats again for your exhibition, this is so exciting!
    And congrats for the pattern match! This skirt is really cool, I know it’s easy to feel out of the comfort zone, but I think you should consider making a matching top, I don’t think for it as it would be too much. Maybe a simple blazer on the top would balance things out, but you know, the fabric looks really great πŸ™‚
    And your shoes are cool!


    1. Thank you! I completely ran out of time to make the top but was thinking I’d make it in a contrast plain fabric as I know in day to day life I’d get more use out of the outfit that way. I think I’ve got just enough fabric to squeeze the top out of the skirt fabric so may eventually make it up to! Or else use it for a simpler tee style top – I’m all for making things I’ll be able to wear in my everyday wardrobe πŸ™‚


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