Creative Patapatai

Sandi Cutts

Sandi Cutts‘ incredible transformations render her near-unrecognisable, yet her sense of self is undeniable. A self-confessed daydreamer, Sandi has surrounded herself with the arts, from special effects to dancing to music. Read on to get to know Sandi a little more…

Your occupation, job title, artistic discipline (or very brief description of what you do) 

I am a hairdresser and makeup artist, and I do special effects for film and events. When I came to Tauranga, I reinvented myself after attending polytech here, and got into sewing and pattern-making. I’m still doing all that, and it takes me to festivals like WOMAD and Splore, and cosplay events.

What cities/towns have you lived in (or spent more than a few months in) beginning with the place of your birth?

I was born in Lower Hutt, then I lived in Whanganui, Palmerston North, Chch, Sydney, Auckland, and spent a little while in Holland. I moved to Tauranga about five years ago.

What are the earliest stories you remember hearing? The ones that told you about the world?  

I was brought up religious, but am not now. So I remember Bible stories and religious narratives. My dad drowned when I was a baby, and my mom put him on a pedestal and would often recount that tragedy.

What’s your favourite Bay of Plenty landscape, park, building, location, suburb, or side street? Why?

The beach, and for boogie-boarding I would say Tay Street in the Mount. I live in Papamoa, and always find myself at the Surf Club there (as well as the Omanu Surf Club). I seek out waterfalls quite often, especially the ones at the top of the Papamoa Hills. There’s a really cool one called Wairere, through the Kaimai Ranges just before Matamata.

What’s an average day in your life at present?   

I am really into permaculture; my garden is a constant and I always have some daily interaction with it. I usually visit my studio at The Incubator to plan projects, create costumes, or work on body art jobs. I got into Brazilian dancing after seeing an announcement for a group based in The Mount, and went along. I met dozens of new mates, and it was always fun. Then I started doing Ceroc, a kind of contemporary dance, and did it last night (I wouldn’t rave about my abilities just yet, but I really enjoy it).

What music was present and still memorable from your youth/adolescence?  

I’ve always loved alternative music, and was into Violent Femmes, Yellow, and punk bands (I was a bit of a punk rocker, or looked like one back then). I went to a Tina Turner concert, and that was cool, and I remember a David Bowie concert in Auckland at Western Springs. Back in the day, I also remember free concerts, mostly local bands, where you just walk up and enjoy live music in the park. I saw Dave Dobbyn that way before he hit the big time. During my twenties I have a lot of live music memories from the Glue Pot, a long-gone venue in Ponsonby Road. There was also Zanzibar and the Six Month Club.

For you as a creative person, who are three influential artists or thinkers?   

I’ve been listening to a guy called Joe Dispenza who is into quantum physics, and is all about healing your own body using the mind. I find him very beneficial. Richard Taylor is a champion, and always inspiring. He was always a judge at the New Zealand Body Art Awards, and I had the job of looking after the judges. I also resonate with Lewis Howes who writes and conducts interviews with interesting people, and I find his work inspiring.

If you went away from the Bay of Plenty for a long time and then came back, what are the first three things you would do or visit?   

I would immediately go to the beach, then call my friends and visit and revive my local social life, and then go dancing.  

Looking back at your childhood self: what one sentence describes that person?

I was a daydreamer, and loved sitting by the window and wondering. Creative, sensitive, and shy. I was an introvert for sure, but am not an ambivert (in between being reclusive and outgoing).

If you had to eat the same meal every day, what would it be?

It would be keto. Low sugar and no carbs, and my favourite would be home-grown vegetables with nuts and salad ingredients. Smoked salmon is my favourite, and there’s usually roasted veggies with my own dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and some herbs.

What are you planning for 2021 that nobody knows about yet?   

I’m not much of a planner and I live in the moment usually. That’s where I am happy. I’m hoping the answer to this question will be more major work in my creative practice and studio. I’m also thinking about buying an industrial sewing machine and expanding my costume design and focusing on making upcycled clothing and getting more into fashion and custom draping. I did a course in airbrushing, and hope to invest in the tools and getting into that kind of creative work.

Who are your favourite or most admired figures from history?

I thought about Marie Antoinette and the extremes of hair and fashion, despite the self-indulgence of it all (and the cake comment). I am drawn to Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen in our times. The first Queen Elizabeth had a sad life but was strong and inspirational.

If the Prime Minister asked you to make up a new policy or law for New Zealand, what would it be? 

All I want is clean water, clean food, and clean air. Anything that helps do that and disrupts the problems in our environment is good public policy.

In one sentence, can you define art?

No, but maybe this will explain it: Earth without Art is Eh!

What is missing or lacking from your Bay of Plenty community or environment?

I’d like to see more sculptures. When you go to Wellington, it hits you, and there are interactive and wind-moving kinetic works that enchant. I used to love going to Sculpture by the Sea and seeing what artists have done. Tauranga needs more of it for sure, but I do love the Tumbleweed near the Domain Road exit. I liked the bronze surfer in the middle of the Mount, but he seems to have disappeared. Where is he now?

Name a few films that you consider profound, moving or extraordinary?  

I really liked Chocolat, And Billy Elliot (the dancing boy), and am into documentaries and informative movies.  

What was your first real job, second, third?  

It’s funny because I started off doing window displays for DIC department store in Palmerston North, right after school. It included sign-writing. Then I worked in a factory and hated ever moment, so decided to do a hairdressing apprenticeship. My boss taught me make-up and that got me into working for television show production doing hair and make-up for TVNZ and TV3 part-time.

Where would you like to live, but have yet to?

My daughter suggested Bali the other day. We’ve never been, but it sounds really great. I love NZ and think I already live in paradise. We went to Thailand, which was nice, but it was 40 degrees and I realised that home was even better. In winter it is quiet and you can hibernate, and in summer it goes off and you can jump into everything.  I like balancing extremes, because it keeps life interesting.

What word of advice would you offer an aspiring creative person?  

Create every day. Take little steps but do it every day, and sometimes without any end goal. Keep making, and building what you do. Trust me, it will help you prepare and be ready.

What’s the biggest problem about life in New Zealand? How you would solve it?

My biggest bugbear is glyphosate, the weed killer made by Monsanto and is used widely as an insecticide. But it gets into our food and can cause health issues. That’s my major gripe. I am concerned with toxic environment and what we can do to avoid them.

What is your dream of happiness?  

I am living it! I’ve sorted things and spent a lot of time deliberately getting here.


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