About Us

The Clay Foundation is a registered charity set up to deliver the British Ceramics Biennial, our year round programme of community and education work and in contemporary ceramics in Stoke-on-Trent.

Our Chairty Number is: 1160430

Board of Trustees

Jonathan Wheale, Chair
Jon Wheale was born and raised in Staffordshire. Following a successful British Army officer career Jon re-trained in law and risk management and is currently the global business risk manager for Christie’s. With a strong interest in supporting arts and the cultural economy, Jon is involved with the governance of several local charities.

Alun Graves
Senior Curator Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass, Victoria and Albert Museum

Alun has responsibility for the collections of 20th Century and Contemporary Ceramics, and has published frequently in this field, as well as on sculpture and historic tiles. He was a member of the project team in the redevelopment of the V&A’s Ceramics Galleries, opened in 2009 and 2010. He has been an Associate of the British Ceramics Biennial since 2009.

Graham Hill
Consultant, Grindeys LLP

Graham is an expert in corporate and charity law. He was a partner in a central London practice before moving to the Potteries over 25 years ago and is now a consultant at Grindeys LLP.  He has acted, and continues to act, for ceramic industry clients. He devotes some of his time to Grindeys Community Limited, the firm’s corporate social responsibility vehicle, and is secretary of The Dudson Centre, a charity housing a voluntary sector resource centre which he played a key role in establishing.  

Kevin Oakes
Chief Executive, Crown Derby

Kevin became CEO of Steelite International following a secondary management buy-out in 2006 in 2012, the Company acquired iconic British brand Royal Crown Derby. Kevin is Chairman of the BPMF (British Pottery Manufacturers Federation) Ltd. He is Vice President of FEPF (European Federation for Table and Ornamentalware) and a board member of both the BCC (British Ceramic Confederation) and Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP, whilst holding membership at the Bank of England Regional Panel and Caterlyst UK.  Kevin was awarded Ernst & Young Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012. Steelite International was awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category.

Flavia Swann
Flavia was Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Design, Media & Culture at the University of Sunderland, and previously Head of Department of History of Art and Design at Staffordshire University.  While at Sunderland, she was part of a team which founded the £16m National Glass Centre in Sunderland, the oldest home of glass in the UK.  She was also the Chief Executive of the Community Radio Station called Wear Fm. Flavia is an expert on Tunbridge Ware, and has written various catalogues and curated exhibitions on the subject. Currently she conducts the historic tours of The Heath House in Staffordshire.

Clare Twomey
​Clare is an artist and a research fellow at the University of Westminster who works with clay in large-scale installations, sculpture and site-specific works. Over the past 10 years she has exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate, Crafts Council, Museum of Modern Art Kyoto Japan, the Eden Project and the Royal Academy of Arts. Within these works Clare has maintained her concerns with materials, craft practice and historic and social context. Clare Twomey is actively involved in critical research in the area of the applied arts, including writing, curating and making. She has developed work, which expands the fields' knowledge of larger scale installation works.

Matthew Wilcox
Chief Executive, Unity Foundation

Matthew began his career as a musician. As he settled in Stoke-on-Trent, he began to see how young people faced a range of social problems and in 2005 founded the Unity Foundation. The charity now focuses on reducing youth unemployment, offending and low educational achievement through arts.  Unity Foundation now employs 40 staff operating across a range of activity including Education, residential care and creative arts engagement. 

Alison Wedgwood

Alison Wedgwood has spent more than 20 years working across the uk in over 30 countries worldwide specialising in the analysis of large-scale data sets to develop robust, objective opinions on both government and private sector investments. Alison took a lead role in the campaign to svae the iconic Wedgwood collection from possible forced sale. she worked as a key advocate, uniting a group of stakeholders including the arts minister Ed Vaizey, Arts Council England, Local MPs, the Art Fund and HLF and served as the key media spokesperson for the Wedgwood family. 

Emma Bridgewater

Emma Bridgewater grew up in Oxford, After studying English at London University, she joined a small knitwear firm, but soon realised that what she really wanted to do was start her own company. Emma sketched out a mug, bowl and jug, and found a pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, the home of British pottery, to make them up. She then set about decorating them using cut-out sponges – a traditional technique that was to become her signature style. The designs were snapped up by Liberty, Harrods, and The General Trading Co, and Emma Bridgewater Ltd was born.As the company grew, Emma was determined to keep production of the pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, and in 1996, bought a Victorian factory there. In 2016 Emma was appointed President of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).