A little about what I do
You may have come to this page because we’ve met in person and you asked me “What do you do?” to which, after a long answer I said “Go to my web-site!” Or you may be here of your own free will. Either way, I hope this answers the question.
I cover several areas, nearly all (even William Hogarth), linked by a common thread, All Things Made of Clay –namely, Ceramics.
I speak and lecture throughout the world on various aspects of Man and Clay. My audiences range from educational institutions (i.e. universities, schools, etc) to other learned and heritage societies (e.g. NADFAS, National Trust, The Royal Institution, Harveyan Society, Oriental Ceramic Society) to the Friends of Museums and Galleries (e.g. the V&A, Ashmolean), to Festivals, Conferences, Social, Corporate and Business gatherings as well as bespoke private functions. From keynote to motivational and after-dinner speeches, my aim is always To Inform and Entertain.
Being involved in the auction world since 1977 I now act as consultant and broker to individuals or institutions where independent advice is needed on the buying, selling or care of Art; not just of Ceramics but also -through an extensive network of expertise – of other artworks and larger collections. I was intimately involved in the sale of one of the world’s most expensive vases.
As a broadcaster I have worked regularly with the BBC since 1986: initially (and for almost 30 years) on the Antiques Roadshow, and subsequently on dozens of TV and Radio series including Inside Antiques (BBC2), Hidden Treasures (Radio 4), Art of the Baroque (Radio 2) . In 2011 and 2013 I filmed two documentaries on the China Trade shown on the BBC and throughout the world.
From time to time I have also been involved in more light-hearted programmes including Call My Bluff and University Challenge (2013 Christmas Edition).
As curator and museum director I have created and/or presided over several exhibitions: Hogarth’s China (1997 and 1999); Celebrating Ceramics (2005-2006) (three concurrent exhibitions for York Museums and Art Gallery; Wakefield; and Scarborough); Threads of Feeling (Foundling Museum, with guest curator John Styles) and Tracey Emin, Paula Rego and Matt Collishaw (with guest curator Jill Hedley)
As author and author-editor I have several books to my name, notably Hogarth’s China (1997); the Little Brown Encyclopaedia of Antiques (with Paul Atterbury); Treasures in your Home (Reader’s Digest, with editor David Battie); and two books for the BBC under the Roadshow banner, one on Fakes, the other on 20th Century Antiques. I also contribute occasional pieces to newspapers and magazines and have had a regular column on The Scandinavian magazine.
I was born in Copenhagen and educated in England. Inspired from an early age by my Danish grandfather (a classicist and archaeologist), I read prehistoric archaeology at Cambridge University. The Master of my college (Gonville & Caius) was the legendary Joseph Needham, father of the still ongoing History of Chinese Science and Civilization fifteen-volume classic. In 1977 I joined auctioneers Sothebys as a junior cataloguer under the wing of late Julian Thompson. Specializing in Ceramics -and particularly in Chinese ceramics and Works of Art- I became a director and auctioneer with the London auction house, representing it throughout many of its European offices, from Spain to Scandinavia. After an extraordinary 16-year education in the art market, I left Sothebys in 1993 to set up my own company, Lars Tharp Ltd.