Lars Tharp: Speaker, Broadcaster, Ceramics specialist and Hogarth Ambassador
I speak and broadcast throughout the world - in the UK, in China, Australia and New Zealand - as well as creating and leading bespoke cultural tours (UK, China and Scandinavia) and lecturing on board ships. My audiences include bodies such as NADFAS, the National Trust, various universities, the Royal Institution, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the English Speaking Union, numerous other cultural societies, chambers of commerce (UK and China), corporates, festivals (du Maurier; Dartmouth, Petworth, Devises et al..), as well as numerous after-dinner events and charities. My main fields of interest are: Ceramics (British; Continental; Chinese and Japanese); The Works, Life and Times of William Hogarth; as well as Taste and Collecting. My starting point is always Objects -how we see them and where they lead us. I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by De Montfort University (Leicester) where I was Visiting Professor (Humanities) in 2007-9. I create powerful visual presentations using images rather than text. Combining humour with serious matter my aim is always to inform and entertain. For a selection of my many talk titles please visit http:// www.tharp.co.uk/what-i-do/talks .
I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and educated in England. After studying prehistoric archaeology at Cambridge University (Caius College, 1973-‘76) I joined Sotheby’s to become a director and auctioneer with the company. Sixteen years later I left to establish my own company, Lars Tharp Ltd. Supported by a strong network of colleagues throughout the Art World we advise on the acquisition, care and disposal of Works of art. As an occasional guest curator, I also devise museum exhibitions, my first being the well-reviewed Hogarth’s China (1997 and 1998) (sponsored along with my book by Royal SunAlliance Insurance), my more recent shows being Celebrating Ceramics, three concurrent exhibitions created for York Museums and Art Gallery (2005/2006).
Up to 2010, while Director of London’s superb Foundling Museum, I presided over several notable exhibitions including Tracy Emin, Paula Rego and Matt Collishaw followed by Threads of Feeling -in which we showed some of the over 5000 fabric tokens left by mothers when depositing their babies with the Foundling Hospital. Today, as the Foundling Museum’s ambassador and Hogarth Curator, I spread the remarkable Thomas Coram story, including the crucial role of William Hogarth in the creation of England’s first home for abandoned and relinquished babies. For two years I also served on the on the jury of The Art Fund’s annual Prize for Museums and Galleries, our winner in 2011 being The British Museum for A History of the World through a Hundred Objects project.
I broadcast frequently on TV and radio. Since 1986 have appeared annually on the BBC Antiques Roadshow , I have had my own 12-part series, Inside Antiques (BBC) as well as devising, hosting and presenting many series and one-off programmes on Radio Three and Radio Four with occasionally quirky features (a full list of TV and Radio credits available on request). My recent film for the BBC, Treasures of Chinese Porcelain (broadcast 2011 and 2012) continues to be shown worldwide, an hour-long documentary in which I physically follow the historic trade route of Chinese export porcelain: 1200 kilometres overland from Jingdezhen to Canton (Guangzhou) - by rivers, lake and mountain pass - and thence to Europe and America. The film has refreshed people’s perception of Chinese ceramics, how they were made as well as the heroic labour involved in bringing them to Europe, to be admired in the great houses, palaces and, latterly, in museums.
Having spent much of my university time on music and drama, I still, if infrequently, play the ‘cello. In 2011 my conversation with ‘cellist Julian Lloyd Webber was broadcast as an interval talk during the BBC Proms season. I am a patron of the Leicester International Music Festival (our artistic director, Nick Daniel); I am vice-chairman of The Hogarth Trust, and through my family’s erstwhile trade as weavers I serve on the court of England’s oldest guild, The Worshipful Company of Weavers. I am a member of the English Ceramics Circle, the Oriental Ceramics Society and in 2011 was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
My co-director wife and our two daughters are all historians and our dog, Archie, is interested in bones.