Coll Minogue and Robert Sanderson established their first studio in Perthshire, Scotland in 1985 and designed and built a wood-fired kiln with a Bourry-type firebox. In 2000 they relocated to the Republic of Ireland.
Coll Minogue has been a professional potter since 1982, having previously taught ceramics at third level, and has worked in Australia and New Zealand as well as in the UK. Coll has had articles published in ceramics journals including Ceramics Art and Perception, Ceramics Technical, Pottery in Australia and Ceramic Review. Her first book, Impressed and Incised Ceramics was published in 1996 by A & C Black, with the second edition published in 2002 and a German edition in 2004. In 2001 Coll co-curated the exhibition 'Impressed and Incised Ceramics' at Aberdeen Museum and Art Gallery, Aberdeen, Scotland. During the 3rd World Ceramic Biennale 2005 Korea, she was one of 14 participants in the International Workshop on Wood-fired Kilns held at the Joseon Royal Kiln Museum in Gwangju. In 2007 Coll participated in the 2nd Foshan International Woodfire Conference, China. In 2008 her third book Slab-built Ceramics was published by The Crowood Press.
A Fellow of the Craft Potters Association of Great Britain (CPA), Robert Sanderson has been a professional woodfire potter since 1976, and has given workshops in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland. In 1994 Robert received a major Crafts Bursary Award from The Scottish Arts Council, to fund a period of research into the effects achievable by woodfiring. In 1997 he was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to undertake a study trip to Japan and Australia. Robert has had articles published in Pottery in Australia, Ceramic Review and The Studio Potter. He lectured part-time at Limerick School of Art and Design between 2001 and 2003.
In 2006, 2007 and 2008 Robert was an invited Artist in Residence at the International Ceramics Research Centre - Guldagergaard, Denmark. At the 41st NCECA Conference in Louisville KY, in 2007, he was moderator of a panel 'Woodfiring in Contemporary Ceramics Education'. Later that year he was one of 14 invited artists at 'The Art of Fire' Symposium hosted by the Academy of Fine Arts Wrocław, at their Centre for Ceramics Art in Poland. Kiln building continues to be a major activity in both educational and private situations.
Together Coll and Robert carried out a survey on Woodfiring in Britain in 1990. They have participated in international woodfire conferences in Australia, USA and France. In 1999 they built and fired a woodfire kiln at the Aberystwyth International Potters Festival, Wales. They have conducted woodfire kiln building workshops at the International Ceramics Centre - Skælskør in Denmark, and at the University of Göteborg, Sweden. In 2001 they were invited speakers at the NCECA Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. They have jointly received awards from The British Council and the British American Arts Association. In 2002 they both were Artists in Residence at the Rufford Craft Centre, Nottinghamshire, England, for a period of seven weeks. This included being workshop leaders for a one week woodfire kiln building and firing course.
During the summer of 2003 they were invited Series Instructors at Red Deer College, Alberta Canada, leading a two week woodfire kiln building and firing workshop.
In 2004 Coll and Robert both participated in the first International Ceramic Magazine Editors Symposium in Fuping, Shaanxi, China and are two of the founder members of the International Ceramic Magazine Editors Association (ICMEA). They were both presenters at The Naked Truth International Woodfire Conference, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA in October 2004; Gundaroo Woodfire '05, the International Woodfire Conference held in Gundaroo, Australia in April 2005; 20+1 years of the Tozan Kilns - International Woodfire Conference at NAU, Flagstaff AZ, USA, in October 2006, and the Sturt Woodfire 2008 - International Woodfire Conference Mittagong NSW, Australia, in April 2008.
Their book Wood-fired Ceramics Contemporary Practices was published by A & C Black (Publishers) London,UK and University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, USA in 2000.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of potters firing with wood, particularly within the last 30 years. At face value woodfiring can be described as the process whereby wood is the fuel used to fire pottery kilns, which have been specifically designed for that purpose. In an age when technology has produced kilns capable of attaining high temperatures in a matter of a couple of hours, it is perhaps remarkable that many potters choose to build and fire kilns which are labour intensive and require constant attention throughout the entire period of the firing, which may last up to several days. There is obviously then more to woodfiring than the process itself.
For the woodfirers of today woodfiring represents an entire aesthetic which evolves from personal choices of both materials and processes. Some seek 'the quiet touch of the flame' accentuating a glazed surface, or giving subtle ash effects on unglazed surfaces. Others combine woodfiring and salt or soda glazing to achieve satisfying effects. Yet others want their work to 'really look wood-fired', bearing evidence of the intensity of fire over many days of high temperature firing. What they all have in common is an attraction to the process of woodfiring, which allows them to be both actively and creatively involved in the firing.
In Wood-fired Ceramics, Coll Minogue and Robert Sanderson briefly describe the development of the main types of wood-fired kilns used by today's potters. They then present the aesthetic aims, working practices and kilns of an international group of artists. Kiln-firing logs; clay, glaze and slip recipes; and kiln plans are also included. The work, by over 60 artists, which illustrates the text, is representative of the diversity of styles in contemporary wood-fired ceramics.