Meggie Kelley - 2015 Ghost Residency Recipient

The Ghost Residency is a unique educational experience based off of the mentor teacher/ apprenticeship model. Historically, this kind of training usually involves following and studying the work of the mentor while on the job rather than in school. Getting this form of experience was an exceptional opportunity to not only learn, first-hand, about all aspects of the design process from one of the world’s leading architects, but to also be a part of his everyday life and family.

As the first full-time employee to work at the MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects satellite studio on the South Shore of Nova Scotia I got to witness and take part in the construction phase for the Gate House, the newly built structure that provided housing for myself and for many future interns to come. The feeling of living in it after it was built was special for me not only because I got to engage with it, the landscape, the peacefully grazing sheep on the hillside, the Ghost projects from previous years, the historic French settlement ruins, and the community across the road, but I also got be a guardian to it. After all, a Gate House is not a Gate House without a Gatekeeper.

Aside from my resident architect responsibility to work alongside Brian MacKay-Lyons as his ‘right hand man’ for multiple custom residential projects of the office, other responsibilities I had included farm work, such as, feeding the sheep or maintaining the garden. Doing these tasks have encouraged me to reflect on and take part in the agrarian ethics behind the work and for why I wanted to come here in the first place, it’s all about ‘cultivating’ rather than ‘consuming’.

Perhaps one of my favorite memories from the year was when Brian, his wife Marilyn, and I went to the Kingsburg Coastal Conservancy potluck at the Riverport Community Centre where he was invited to give a lecture to his neighbors about his work (entitled “Place, Craft, and Community”). During the lecture he spoke about the maritime tradition of sons building boats with their fathers on the shore and taking them to China (“Le Grand Tour”). I sort of feel like I’m about to get in the boat, but I feel great about it.