Weekend Q&A: Neil Beattie, lead artist of Culture Night's centrepiece Ogham Grove installation

Neil Beattie: 'Make sure you're doing something you enjoy'
Jane Hardy

Neil Beattie (47) is lead artist of Culture Night's centrepiece Ogham Grove installation at Writer's Square in Belfast city centre.

How do you unwind at the weekend?

I actually work full-time in product development at Encom Energy Systems on smart energy management devices, which is very important now. Generally I do my own personal projects at the weekend, like furniture design. I relax by using reclaimed salvage material to make things. Recently I made a bed out of pallets with the blocks as the feet. It's very low and a bit like a futon, but you can put a comfortable mattress on top. You also have the symbols on the pallets, of the makers or of the mark for sustainable wood. It's geometric, like a needle. I gave it to my nephew. I also relax by meeting up at weekends with a couple of friends and we make rock electric music. I'm the bass player.

What do you recall about weekends growing up?

I grew up in Lambeg and I recall skateboarding as a teenager. When I was younger, six or seven, I was a BMX-er but judging by the cuts and bruises I sustained, I wasn't that good. This would have been on the Aberdelghy BMX track, beside the golf course. As a teenager I was unruly and yes, I was a punk.

Friday or Saturday night?

Saturday night is to make music and I also go at the weekend to the Northern Lights bar.

Do you have a must-listen weekend radio show or podcast?

Not really, I don't generally listen to podcasts and rarely watch TV.

Do you have a must-watch TV programme or box set?

I watch a lot of YouTube on how to make things. That's how I generally do research on projects. It's a bit Blue Peter, which I wasn't that keen on back in the day. I was more into cartoons like G-Force.

Is Sunday still special?

I am an atheist, so no. Only in terms of you don't have the phone ringing.

Favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

Probably a Thai takeaway. We get food from Street Thai in Eglantine Avenue. My favourite dish is gang kua, a mildly spicy red curry with duck.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

I really enjoy my work and have never had that 'haven't done my homework' feeling. I look forward to it and don't mind Sunday evening. That is my philosophy of life - to make sure you're doing something you enjoy. It's a very fortunate position to be in, although I know some people are happy just to put the eight hours in. And there are a lot of jobs nobody would appreciate. I am extremely grateful to be where I am, even if the money can sometimes be poor.

The Ogham Grove is at Writer's Square, Belfast, until 10pm tomorrow.

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