Janne Robberstad

Welcome to my site! I work as a costume-designer and an artist, and creating, or ARTING as I prefer, makes me happy! This is both a portfolio of things I´ve made and a blog meant to inspire.

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Sri Lanka travel journal

By spotogspindel | May 21, 2015

I´m home! After 10 wonderfully relaxing days, I´m back to my normal, sometimes-crazy-busy days. One of my favorite things to come home to, was a big package in the mail from Dawn Sokol. A big book inside, with a handwritten bookmark, guiding me to my page 😀


Author´s note to me (hi-hi..)


I am not sure if I can find the words to fully describe what it feels like to read one´s own name in a book like this. Awesome, proud, humble, super-cool are some of them.


The pictures inside the book are from my travel-journal, with pages from Mexico, Israel and Palestine.

I haven´t read much of it yet, days are busy. But I have started with the beginning, and am enjoying the details in the work, the thoughts the artists offer. I really like that so many of the artists have their websites published. I am looking forward to discovering a lot of new ARTing-folks!

Well, anyway. I thought I´d celebrate it with you, by sharing the next 7 pages in my original travel journal: Sri Lanka. It´s the 39th country I´ve visited! It ranks quite high, and is one of the countries I don´t feel I am nearly finished discovering, and want to go back to explore more.


The pages are all watercolor and black pen, the last page isn´t finished… but that´s the beauty of a travel journal, there is no “right way”, no way should be or has to be. It just is what it is. If I don´t finish, then I don´t finish.

I might not be posting for a couple of days: my baby sister is getting married, and my creativity will go into flower-decorations, singing and trying to make a fun speech…

Topics: arting | 2 Comments »

Sri Lanka – the handicrafts

By spotogspindel | May 16, 2015

Sri Lanka is a country with a long and rich history, which is also filled with fine handicrafts and arts.

Woodcarving is one of them. Still today, the crafts is being held partly by making traditional masks sold to tourists.


They use mainly native trees like mahogany, rosewood, teak, ebony among others. We passed several mahogany-plantations on our trip.


Below is a log from a rainbow-tree. Carved shed dings are used, mixed with water as paint, both on wood and plaster/fresco. In itself, is has a warm orange-red color. Add a few drops of lemon juice and it turns purple-blue. Add more lemon-juice and it turns bright yellow. Add a little plaster and it turns a brownish color. Fascinating!


The mask below is not among the traditional religious masks, but it is painted with paints from the rainbow-tree.


Silks! A land of saris and sarongs, the have lots of silk. A lot of it is handwoven, and some of them embroidered for a very decorative effect. Yes, that is me, being silly, posing with my tourist-cast-mark in my forehead. But the sari, though, was stunning!



Anne and me posing as natives. Only our pale skin gives us away 😉


Batic is another traditional craft here. Above is a photo of wax-batic in the process. By applying hot wax in a certain pattern, it shields the fibers from soaking up dye and therefore color. The process can be repeated several times, adding new layers of color for a rich picture.


We met this man on the beach just by the hotel. He´s a fisher and mending his fishing net at the end of the day. This is a common activity amount fishers around the world, but if I am not mistaken it is on the red-list of nearly-instinct crafts in Norway: Too few people still know how to do this.


Topics: travel | 1 Comment »

People of Sri Lanka

By spotogspindel | May 15, 2015

Time flies when you´re having fun, and already tomorrow we are heading back home from this Pearl of the Sea. We totally agree: we love Sri Lanka! It is a beautiful country, so green. But the most beautiful thing about Sri Lanka is it´s people! They are SO welcoming, so warm, so proud of their country, and so willing to share it with you. They are genuinely interested in learning about you and your country, and are eager to make you love their country, like they love it themselves. It is the main reason we both want to come back some day, and continue our exploration of the country. So let me “introduce” a few of the Sri Lankans to you:


We met this 8-year old girl on top of Sigiriya, she was  bit shy, but wanted to practice her English.


And this nice man and his 3-year old daughter on the train to Kandy. They were on a family-outing, and it was his daughter´s very first train-ride.


This is one of three ritual drummers at the Tooth Relic Temple in Kandy.


I haven´t formally been introduced to this man, but shot a snap photo of him while driving in Kandy. In Norway we only have police in the streets if there is an accidents, not normally to regulate traffic. I think he´s looking very sharp in his uniform, making sure all the kids come safely to school!


This nice, young lady we met at the tea-plantation explaining all the different stages and grading in tea-production.


Another woman we just past by, planting rice in a field. There is an amazing flora here, so many fruits and vegetables I´ve never even heard of!


A young couple about to get their wedding-photos taken. May is the main month for marrying in Sri Lanka, and we met several couples in their bridal costumes.


This is Sana, our guide for our tours around the island, and his wife. A very charming and knowledgable man who took very good care of us. He even came around to the hotel to give Anne a bouquet of flowers for her birthday!


Topics: travel | 1 Comment »

Elephants and elephants

By spotogspindel | May 13, 2015

There are 450 working elephants in Sri Lanka, 6000 wild elephants, and thousands upon thousands of images of elephants, be it decorations, sculptures, paintings…


Made of wood, metal, stone… painted, carved, chiseled…


or wax-batic-dyed onto cotton, like below…


Most of them are beautiful, but none can compare to the real thing. Once you´ve met them , you can understand the fascination and inspiration they give for artistic expression.


Visiting the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala, we met dozens of elephants. The youngest ones only about a year, we even got to give them milk from a bottle! (Unfortunately, no photos, only on film)


And after the meal, the all went for a good bath to cool down.


It was quite a sight, the elephants walking freely, splashing around, enjoying themselves.


Yes, we are now also the elephant-ladies, not just the Come-and-Go-girls 😉

Topics: travel | 1 Comment »

Colors of Sri Lanka

By spotogspindel | May 11, 2015

Wandering the streets of Negombo today, photographing the everyday scene of life, and being very inspired by the vivid use of color. Visiting the markets, walking by shops, spening money on yet another sari…


A hindu-temple by the street. With Gods as colorful as this, how can religion be dull? I don´t know much about hinduism, but I know there are thousands of Gods, and they each have a sop-opera of drama connected to them. The elephant t-god in the front is Ganesh, one of the most popular gods, protecting love and marriage among other things.


And the trucks here are awesome! Colors, patterns, ornaments, some added carved and painted wood for extra decoration. The


The sari I didn´t buy… Aqua with gold embroidery and sequins. OMG – what beautiful craftsmanship!


Sri Lanka is already a favorite country of mine. The attitude among people here is SO friendly!, so relaxed and charming, and genuinely friendly. Neighboring country India is so much more intense, almost aggressively attacking every sense you have, crowded with people and beggars, but Sri Lanka is just a place that makes you happy and feel good. I already know that I want to come back here again.


Topics: travel | No Comments »

on the go with the come-and-go girls

By spotogspindel | May 9, 2015

Strange title? Our guide today , when learning our names, found that this is what our names sound like in Singhalese: Anne sounds like “come”, and Janne sounds like “go”. So now we are the Come-and-Go-girls!

Well, today, we´ve pretty much been on the go all day, here are just a few of the things we´ve seen and done.


We started the day visiting the Rock Temple at Dambulla. 5 big, natural caves were transformed into Buddhist temples of worship, filled with Buddha-sculptures around the rooms. And frescos filled the ceilings and walls.


There are some very impressive reclining Buddhas here. And loads of beautiful ornamentation, which I´ll come back to in another post.


Below is Sigiriya, one of the most special places in Sri Lanka. A naturally shaped mountain with caves, and a fort built on the top. 1500 years ago 6000 people lived on and around the top here! There are huge gardens below, fresco-painted caves, and a big pool on the very top of the mountain. And yes, we did go all the 1221 steps to the top.


About half-way up, there are some natural caves. They had been painted with fresco-paintings with portraits of all of the king´s 500 concubines. Some of them have survived centuries of  monsoon rain and weather, and below you can see two of them. All the paints are natural colors from plants and minerals, and they still look gorgeous today.


We rode an elephant part of the way to Sigiriya. Since Anne is a tough woman, who carries a rifle to work, in case a hungry polar bear comes around, I got the honor of sitting in front :-)


Topics: travel | 1 Comment »

Sri Lanka – first impressions

By spotogspindel | May 8, 2015

Summer came early this year! I´m in Sri Lanka with my dear friend Anne. We arrived yesterday, so I only have a couple of random impressions to share with you. All I can say is so far I really like this country!


The man above is hand-embroidered, and I actually saw him in Oslo, before getting on the plane. I think is so beautifully made, I just had to include him.


Beautiful hand-woven cotton shirts with matching sarongs. Loving the bright colors!


An antique door, with intricate metal-work, is decorating the reception at the hotel.


A sailboat used for fishing right outside out room.


Brightly colored  fishing-net at the fish-marked on the beach a couple of hundred years down the beach.


And me. Slightly sunburned and feeling very fortunate. Ready to explore this beautiful country!

Topics: Diverse, travel | 1 Comment »

the first

By spotogspindel | April 28, 2015

The first reading of a new play. The first meeting with the theatre-group. The first sketches of the costumes. The first measuring of the actors. The first meeting with the seamstresses. The first introduction to the music.

It´s all very exciting!


Tonight I met the group of kids and adults who will be working with bringing a sub-sea community to life in November. In June I´ll be back and we´ll have two hectic weeks of making the costumes.

Topics: backstage | No Comments »

A new collection on the way

By spotogspindel | April 23, 2015

The 2015 collection of tote-bags are on their way! I just got the fabric with my art printed on it, and am in the process of sewing them together. Even though I know pretty well how to do it by now, it sure takes time to get them done anyway.


Topics: textile | No Comments »

The Peace Festival

By spotogspindel | April 22, 2015

The students at Bømlo Folk High School arrange a Peace-festival every year. This is the 19th year, and this year´s theme is “Refugees”.  1237.orig.18dbef00051fbc832dd8767111b45d96

Bømlo Folk High School is the school I thought at for 13 years, so naturally it´s close to my heart. I have so many wonderful memories from this place, moments with the students, and with my colleagues, many of them dear friends still. I´ve learned so much here!

But I was going to tell you about the Festival. The very first festival was arranged in 1996 and was part of a theatre-project, a staging of the musical HAIR, which I was the production manager of. Back at work, I argued strongly for the school to take over the idea, and make it an annual thing, as I thought it would be a great way for the students to  – learn more about war and peace,  and all the issues related to it-  and to learn practically how to make a big arrangement by simply doing it. We had a different focus every year, but the main theme remained the same.

(What is peace by the way? Is it a calm and passive state of non-conflict? I think not. I think it is a very active state or will. You have to not only want it, but work actively for it. It is not a constant, and it needs to be continuously reviewed, to make sure it is a good as it can be and is not threatened by conflicts.)

The festival took on a form of two-day happening. First day, schools and kindergartens come and participate in different activities. Second day is open for the public, and filled with interesting talks, exhibitions, discussions, lectures… and it all ends with a big concert.

Even though it´s been almost 8 years since I left the school, this is the one trace I am very proud to have left behind, the introduction of the Peace Festival.

So now, 8 years later, when I am asked to show some of my art at an exhibition there, of course I had to come!


The theme was as mentioned “People fleeing” or “Refugees”, and I found it very difficult to make art around this sad theme. But then I thought of what it would be if it was me. What if I had to flee and leave everything behind. And with this in mind I made three pictures called “My life without me”. All freestyle machine-embroidered on linen.

When you look at the news these days, I am grateful that every year 80 ordinary, young people work intensely with this theme, bringing awareness to themselves and the people around them.

Topics: Diverse | No Comments »

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