People with Passion: Philip Mould
Q1) You have been well known in the art world for years and now more widely thanks to the brilliant Fake or Fortune series you present with Fiona Bruce. What has been your most exciting discovery and why?
The discovery of the Delaroche painting in the last series. I realised that the most compelling way to talk about art is to extrapolate the human dimension, be it the subject matter or the provenance, and in this case it was two people as well; the last owner, an art dealer who had died tragically young, was a man I could identify with and the current owner, his heroic wife struggling to keep the family home together for their two children. It was not just trying to prove that the painting was by Delaroche, but a recorded painting by Delaroche and a royal one at that. For the current owner it meant the closure on unfinished business and, for us all, a feeling of salvation - of having done something not just academic but humane.
Q2) What first fuelled your passion for art?
The process of discovery which takes on many different forms - foraging for free wild food, harvesting puffballs and blackberries. It is the idea of something out there that you can connect with and add value to. As a child I used to pan for gold in streams!
Q3) How have you channeled this quest for discovery from dipping in streams and foraging in the countryside to the art world?
The whole thing became clear to me last weekend - it is a terribly straight forward formula - fortune favours the prepared mind. If you know what you are looking for, if you give it a lot of thought and you apply yourself in a focused way - it happens.
Q4) You have been all over the world and no doubt admired many countries and cultures, where are your favourite places?
Nature and art have always fused in my mind, they are both, I suppose, manifestations of the spiritual world. Langkawi Rainforest Island, Malaysia where a retired banker gives tours of the rainforest is a favourite. But most of all I feel this on my own land in the Cotswolds, where there is a fusion of history and nature. I get as much pleasure from the natural world and finding common spot orchids as I do from finding an early Gainsborough. Digging ponds is so exciting because three quarters of all British wildlife thrives in or around water and when you dig a hole in the ground and fill it with water...things come running!
Q5) If you had to save three artworks from a fire what would they be?
That's impossible! Gainsborough's portrait of his children chasing a butterfly which is one of the most perfect expressions of childhood, parental love and engagement with nature. The Rothkos in Tate Modern, so profound as a campaign of paintings. The Rothkos room is a cathedral of abstraction (and I never thought I would hear myself say that!) Finally Lely's Children which lived at home for many, many years.
Q6) What would you like to be doing if you weren't doing your present jo?
A pyscho-analyst or working in public relations. The challenge of putting over the obtruse, that's what I do in my programme, that is my passion.
Q7) Who has inspired with you and would like to have lunch with?
David Attenborough who I bumped into recently and I wrote to him and said would you have lunch. It was the most fulfilling lunch I have ever had. We spent 2 hours talking continuously across art, television and nature. Seeking provenance in art is not disimilar to nature - the shape, the colour, the behavioural pattern, the brushstrokes, the scales, the conformity of the beak and the eye.
Dame Edna and Olivia Newton John!
Q8) Where would you take them?
Outside - next to a river.
Q9) Finally what would be your top 3 dessert island tracks?
Je T'aime (for the high points and tragedies of being a teenager).
Eleanor Rigby (memories of being at school with John Lenon's son Julian)
Schubert's Trout Quintet (the most evocative piece of music about nature)
Posted: September 2016