A man dressed in a costume of a wave stands to the wave sculpture on the Halifax waterfront.
Colin J. Muise dressed as The Wave.

Nova Scotia landmarks like the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse and the Town Clock on Citadel Hill have inspired artists for years. But one local artist is putting his own twist on costumes and photography inspired by those landmarks.

Colin J. Muise, a photographer and digital designer, has been sharing photos of costumes he’s created of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, the Town Clock, and most recently, The Wave sculpture on the Halifax waterfront.

The Facebook page Halifax Noise has posted the photos of Muise’s work, which have been shared thousands of times.

Muise’s “costume-sewing journey” got started a few years ago when he decided to make his own clothes. He made the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse costume for a Halloween party. That costume, he said, was a last minute decision. 

“At the time, I didn’t have big intentions of photographing it and posting it onto social media,” he said. “I eventually did months later and it kind of blew up and went viral. I knew then this had to turn into a bit of a series rather than a one-off.” 

The Town Clock costume was the next, but that costume with its intricate details took Muise much longer to make, about five or six months. Muise said he had trouble finding a clock that matched the one on the Citadel Hill landmark.  

“That turned into a hunt of its own,” he said.  

Muise as the Town Clock.

The most recent costume is The Wave sculpture. Muise shared those photos just last week. 

“I think I’m more surprised no one had come along and done like this before me,” Muise said. “It doesn’t feel like a terribly novel idea. I think in that regard everyone is very thrilled and excited that someone is doing it finally.” 

“But I’ve been on the internet long enough to know that you never quite know the reaction you’re going to get. I did have an idea of what I might be getting into when I posted it, but I certainly didn’t know or expect it to turn out to be this level of support behind it.” 

Muise as the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.

Muise, who taught himself everything he knows about sewing and costume making, said his favourite costume so far is The Wave because it really tested his design and sewing skills. He said the design isn’t a standard dressmaking concept like the Town Clock or the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse. 

“The Wave was really an experiment to see if I could get fabric to take on any kind of shape I needed it to and pushing the boundaries of my imagination in terms of making it happen without using cardboard,” Muise said. “I didn’t want it to turn into something outside of the world of fashion. I wanted it to be fabric and textile based. For me, that’s one I didn’t expect it to work out for myself. I had a lot of skepticism, and I just gave it a try and did a lot of experimentation. I exceeded my own expectations.” 

Muise creates more than costumes, though. He’s been doing photography for about 10 years, mostly as a hobby. He only started selling his artwork in the last year, although he’s on a bit of a break now focusing on the costumes. When he started out with photography, he wanted to expand his portfolio to “tickle the minds of locals.”  

He takes photos of Nova Scotia landmarks adding his own twist to each print. He took a photo of Peggy’s Cove lighthouse and added rocket launchers underneath, calling the print Peggy’s Rocket. Another photo is of the red-and-white stacks of Tuft’s Cove with a branch of cherry blossoms coming out of the top of one of the stacks. Old MacDonald New MacKay is a black-and-white photo of the MacKay Bridge with trees growing from the bridge’s deck. Still another print is of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse again, but with a bend in the middle. That print is called Flaccid Margaret.

“I feel like there are so many photos of the Town Clock, Peggy’s Cove, and they’re all the same photographs taken at the same time of the day. I didn’t think there was anything novel or interesting about them. I wanted to put my own twist on it and do some design work to make them speak to me and what I did with photography and how I manipulate them.” 

A print of Flaccid Margaret. Photo: Colin J Muise

Besides the costume making and photography, Muise said he’s really enjoying being the entertainer in his landmark costume project. 

“It’s kind of this self-feeding cycle,” he said. “I feel like I start one of these projects, like the Town Clock, and by the time I finish I’m depleted by energy and fuel, and I doubt why I’m doing this. And then I post the photos and I can tell they’ve made people laugh, they enjoy it, and they give me feedback. That energy reinvigorates me and propels me into the next project. It’s this cycle of feeding off the energy I’m getting from everyone’s reaction, which has been so wholesome and supportive.” 

Muise is already working on his next costumes, including one of the smokestacks of Tuft’s Cove. Another costume idea he’s keeping under wraps for now because he doesn’t think anyone will expect it. 

“I am happy in my art prints and my costumes that I reimagined what (the landmarks) can be and what they can do, and how they can be used in an artistic and cultural fashion.” 


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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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