Image: sketch of a 1600s leather drinking bottel by Fiona Glen
Gently as our days bite
The vernacular antiques of the Robert Young collection tell their tales in this series of eleven stories. Released online between November 2020 and January 2021 as multimedia clusters of texts, videos, images, and GIFs, Gently as our days bite is a commission by Contemporary Collaborations (@contemporary_collaborations) at Robert Young Antiques, curated by Erin Hughes.
You can see the project in full here on the Contemporary Collaborations web page, or discover the media stories on Instagram.
We inscribe things with memory. A simple stone or vase or chair can become a symbol of a person, or a portal to another time in our lives. We can re-enter the world of our childhood when we hold its things again; we can feel the presence of a lost loved one through the things they cherished. Together, our things form an extended self, arriving and leaving throughout our lifetimes as our needs and desires and traits shift. They absorb us and express us, and often survive us, going on to gather the touches of other lives.
Human beings are creatures defined by making – by our use of tools and objects, by our creation of changing worlds to live in and with. And, as much as we are marked by the objects which form the landscape of our lives, our touch marks them. We leave our trace everywhere: in craftwork and patch-ups and notches and scratches. We are witnessed by our places and things in this way. Antiques survive us, witness us, and express us. Their stories are ours, too.
‘Gently as our days bite’ is an act of listening to eleven objects – of hearing what memories might be murmuring in their material, of following the tangled threads of their possible stories, and of reading their characters, forged between the tenderness and brutality of human time and touch.
3. Cowhand and Cow, 19th November 2020: