Janne Robberstad

Welcome to my site! I work as an eco-designer, an artist, as a teacher and as a researcher, 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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By spotogspindel | March 31, 2016

In a charity-shop I found an embroidered version of Jean-François Millet´s painting called The Gleaners (1857). It depicts three peasant women gleaning a field of stray grains of wheat after the harvest.


I wanted to use it for something special, and decided to use it for the Elizabethan corset I´ve had in my mind for the embroidery exhibition. In many ways this was the first idea, that sparked the whole exhibition. I was thinking about how embroidery was one of the very few activities women were allowed to do, besides the house-chores. In many ways you could argue that embroidery was also work, but the excess of it, the details, the esthetics, the abundance of it, exceeds the bare necessities. So I thought, in a way this was one of the few ways women actually could express themselves creatively: by embroidering. And then I thought, well, maybe for some women it was just that, a means of self-expression. But to other women, it might just as well have been a straight-jacket of an activity. If they hated embroidery, yet it was the only activity allowed… So I decided I needed to make a corset as a symbol for both sides of the story. The shape is restraining and uncomfortable. The mere esthetics of it, the will to make your surroundings cosy and decorated with a homely and decorative embroidery, as a symbol of the means of self-expression.


When I finally came across this motif of the Gleaners, I thought that it fitted perfectly into my theme: women doing the boring, tedious work, invisible both before and after, and therefore ungrateful. But necessary and economic and important. Just like women of all ages have taken the role of the invisible, yet responsible, domestic house- and home-keeper.


I managed to get half of the picture in front, and the other half in the back. Unfortunately it doesn´t fit any of my mannequins, so I´ll have to find one that shows off the shape better than this. But you can still see how the back-pieces match up pretty well, even though 2 cm disappeared in the seam-allowance.


I don´t know how many gleaners are left in this part of the world. But as I am reading more and more about ecology, I am also becoming aware of the necessity of showing moderation and appreciation of the gifts bestowed us by the earth. I think I might have to start gardening again. At least for some vegetables and herbs. I learned so many of these things when I was a child, but haven´t practiced it for years.


Work-in-progress: Lots of hand-seewing on the inside, my fingers were sore for days afterwards, working with this hard, layered cotton.


Topics: embroidery, embroidery redesign, redesign, textile | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Gleaner-corset”

  1. gail Says:
    March 31st, 2016 at 21:11

    As always, such an interesting interpretation. I love the combination of decoration and drudgery. My favorite pieces are always the ones that are both beautiful and useful, a reminder of the beauty of value of our labors.

  2. michelle allen Says:
    April 2nd, 2016 at 00:59

    as always, you are AMAZING!!! super love this.