It was as though we stepped into a daymare masquerading as an antique market.
I do not, as a matter of course or habit, frequent antique markets. Once or twice a year, at most, and mostly because I have a few precious friends who live for these markets – who know all the vendors and all the wares (and about them) and have committed the antique market circuit (it is seasonal; it passes from county to county like a circus and all of its transient allure) to memory.
It’s fun going to antique markets because I go with my committed friends, and I only go to antique markets when I go with them.
As for the rest…
… Not all of the “antiques” live up to the name, or even care to aspire to it. There’s a lot of junk (“vintage” as it may as well be), or borderline junk (or borderline or absolute treasure, depending on how you’d see it) – props from movies no one’s seen (or longer cares about, if anyone ever did), random doll parts (heads, arms, torsos), chairs made of discarded horns, disused and disembodied clown heads, anatomically outrageous equestrian statuary, pharmacological (not to mention gynaecological) implements (both great and small) – most of it hard to keep in the mind when it’s spread across vendors’ stalls going in all possible directions.
When the senses are bombarded by the immediacy of these myriad…things.
I am convinced that much of the stuff is haunted, or at least cursed in some nefarious way. No monkey’s paws (not yet) but a few purported “shrunken heads” have popped up here and there. The implication of such a thing is bad enough; the sustained drive to covet it…well, what isn’t for sale these days?
The antiques, such as they are – and there is a fair amount of what may be termed “the good stuff” (vintage jewelry, beautifully hand-crafted furniture, some exquisite taxidermy, dishware of various shapes, sizes and hues, cute and/or elaborate butter stamps, etc.) – repeat themselves as you make your way from vendor to vendor. So many butter stamps. Endless bowls and tureens. Tables and chairs and desks just everywhere.
This particular market, though (Christie Antique and Vintage Show, 26/05/18), and on this particular day, seemed primed for the peculiar and the unsettled.
All of the above-mentioned junk above, with all its attendant weird angles, strange proportions and unreasonable scale. But also brief pockets of lucidity, in which the heads, horns and assorted aberrances receded into everyday folk art, books, china, rugs and lamps.
Daymare (noun): a frightening or oppressive trance or hallucinatory condition experienced while awake.
Oppressive heat; unrelenting humidity for all that it was a supposed spring day too, though the clouds and gentle wind provided intermittent relief.
Many “vintage” photographs with dead faces staring out not unpleasantly. A lot of inexplicable nudity (not all of it pleasant). Some tantalizing glimpses of nostalgic charm (in the form of, say, a freezer bag full of He-Man action figures or a neat pile of gently used sets of Operation).
A heady sense of timelessness in which minutes turned into hours turned into minutes turned into that second I looked away and then insides were out and on display.
Overpriced refreshments, and even then barely enough of them.
On and on as they day wore on, and wore thin.
No relief, and then some.
There’s another CA&VS in the fall (08/09/18) . Rain or shine! Will I be there?
I’m beginning to think I never left…