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The guiding light 

A props specialist and set designer shares favourites from his beloved vintage lamp collection.

If you've ever walked through central Halifax during the holiday season, you may have noticed an unusual sight on a Quinpool side street. Instead of the gaudy twinkle of icicle lights, one glassed-in porch is filled with a warm but alien glow, attracting strangers and neighbours to this dreamy moonscape.

Welcome to Mark Dunphy's vintage lamp collection. Mark, who worked on set construction and puppet armatures for shows like Poko and Lunar Jim, owns over 75 mid-century lamps. About 45 make his annual display. Mostly acquired from local vintage shops, Mark doesn't collect based on value, but on "pure personal appeal." In fact, he's drawn to affordable lamps that fit the everyday design vernacular of each era:1 1970s plastic TV lamps in Floridian colours like turquoise and pink that would have originally been purchased from places like the local Kmart;2 "silly" round '60s and '70s molded lights that look like giant jawbreakers; and his favourite,3 '50s lamps with architecturally inspired ceramic bases and lashed shades.

"It's our quiet little gift," Dunphy says.

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