Monique Robben was born in The Hague, the Netherlands. Graduated in Textiles and Fashion at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 1984.
Working for the council of The Hague making paintings for their educational exhibitions, giving painting lessons for more then 20 years, she now paints full time.
She is passionate about painting, specifically seascapes and clouds. Over the years she developed a semi abstract style. Using the palette knife often to achieve a mix between tranquility and a textured image.
Since she moved to the UK and became a couple with Andy Sheppard, next to painting, she started to work with Andy making ceramic sculptures in raku firing techniques.
Andy Sheppard was born in West Wales and has been a Raku potter for 30 years, selling in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
At 16 Andy started a three year apprenticeship with Heron Pottery, after wich he was employed as a production thrower by a number of potteries where he developed a range of techniques.
He soon became known for the precicion of his thrown work and his time in work culminated with the opening of his own gallery in 1990.
At this time Andy began to combine the precise classsical shapes of his thrown work with the randomness and spontaneity wich is inherent in the process of Raku firing.
Raku refers to a method of firing wich derives from an ancient Japanese technique and is associated with Zen philosophy and practise.
Raku is seen as a spiritual proces and is the most respected form of making/ finishing / firing techniques in Japanese ceramics.
There are many factors and variables involved in the Raku proces, always dependant on the dynamic principle of chance.
Thus the artist does not have absolute control but is more an active participant in the process.
In the way each individual piece is a unique expression of this relationship and the particular creative event from wich it arises.
In 1997 Andy moved to Cork, West Ireland where he created studio pottery for galleries throughout Ireland.
It was whilst in Ireland that Andy developed a particular interest in bodycasting and sculpture. For him this hand built work represented something quite different as he experienced a deeper empathy with the clay without the intervention of mechanics devices such as a wheel.
He found this way of working much more intuitive and expressive and more reflection of inner attitudes, feeling and impressions.
Finding it a very fascinating process becoming a participator in the process of chance with dynamic results. The end result is always a surprise.
They welcome commission requests although they can not predict the outcome of the Raku process and the post-firing within the boundaries of Raku.