These days, while walking near her Halifax home, it’s not unusual for people to recognize Gail Meagher as ‘the LEGO lady.’
It’s a response she’s received many times since showcasing her LEGO exhibit in 2015 during the first months of the opening of the new Halifax Central Library.
Over the course of a week, some 11,000 people flooded through the library doors and saw Meagher’s recreations; the focus was on iconic Nova Scotian architecture and ranged from the library itself to Halifax City Hall.
“A fair number of people recognize me from that,” she said, describing herself as LEGO hobbyist.
And despite the recognition, Meagher said she is still surprised by her life path.
“When I was about 10 years old, I foolishly thought I was too old for LEGO,” she said.
For many years, her collection gathered dust in her mother’s attic.
Meagher didn’t begin building again until her mid-20s, but quickly became involved with a group dedicated to building model train sets.
Over a number of years, she realized she enjoyed building the surrounding buildings more than the trains themselves and left the group in 2009.
“I enjoy the reactions of people,” she said when asked about exhibiting her work.
“You expect kids to have their jaw drop and get big eyes… but when I get that reaction from adults, that’s fun.”
Building has also become an outlet for Meagher during a difficult time; since becoming environmentally ill, she has been limited in what she can do for work.
“There’s a lot of hobbies that you can’t really do,” she said.
Substances like glue, paint and other chemicals can trigger her symptoms.
“Doing a show might take a lot out of me but it is rewarding to get out and get people’s reactions,” she said. “LEGO is a great way to have a creative outlet.”
Meagher noted she’s developed a very particular process to building. She begins by heading out with her camera and taking anywhere from 50 to 100 photos of her subject for reference.
She then heads home and, after ruminating for a few days, begins the project by spreading out the LEGO pieces she needs across the floor for quick identification; from the outside, she acknowledged, the whole process can look a bit chaotic.
Projects can take anywhere from three to 30 days, depending on complexity.
Meagher said she’s always up for a challenge, adding that her Halifax Central Library took a full month to build.
“The great thing about LEGO is if you don’t like it or you make a mistake, you just take it apart and reuse the (pieces),” she said.
Meagher said her latest challenge is finishing off a number of pieces for an exhibit at the West Hants Historical Society (WHHS).
The exhibit, which runs for three weeks starting on June 25, will showcase pieces based on the Windsor-area.
Meagher explained she is particularly excited to showcase her recreation of Windsor’s Shand House, an iconic Queen Anne-style house.
She is also piecing together the WHHS’ building, an old Methodist church that was purchased in 1991.
And despite growing up, Meagher said some of the basics of building have remained the same.
“Playing with LEGO is fun,” she said with a laugh.
When asked if she ever thought she’d be known for her LEGO work, Meagher said she’s still shocked.
But, as long as it continues to be fun, she’s OK with being called ‘Lego lady.’
Meagher also has another exhibit scheduled for late July in Bedford.
If you go
The exhibit is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the display is scheduled to run for three weeks.
281 King St., Windsor, N.S.