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Catherine Martin

Catherine Martin

Born on Jan. 26, 1965 in Lindfield, New South Wales, Australia, Martin was raised by her father, Angus, a professor and head of the French department at Sydney University, and her mother, Claude, a mathematics teacher originally from France. When she was six, her mother taught her how to sew dresses for her dolls, which in hindsight served as a catalyst for her eventual career. After high school, Martin attended the Sydney College of the Arts, where she spent a year studying visual arts before realizing that she had made the wrong move. Martin applied to the famed National Institute of Dramatic Arts, but was told she needed more real life experience. So she spent the following year in the fashion industry printing T-shirts and working for an independent designer. Martin reapplied and was accepted. Then after her second year, she was approached by a past graduate and budding director, Baz Luhrmann, who was looking for people with whom he could collaborate on a long-term basis; not project-to-project.Once she had finished her studies, Martin joined Luhrmann on his opera, "Lake Lost" (1988), for which she won a Victorian Green Room Award for Best Design, then created the sets for the Australian stage production of "Diary of a Madman" (1989), starring Geoffrey Rush. Martin continued working with Luhrmann, designing the stage for the director's reconceived production of "La Boheme" (1990), which was set in the 1950s. She next was the set designer on "A Midsummer Night's Dream," which earned her another Victorian Green Room Award, as well as an award with the Sydney Theatre Critics' Circle for Best Design. When Luhrmann translated his 1986 stage play "Strictly Ballroom" to the screen in 1992, it gave Martin the opportunity to recreate her costumes and set designs in her feature debut. While the film propelled Luhrmann's directing career, Martin, herself, earned praise, including awards from the Australian Film Institute for both her costumes and sets. She garnered an Oscar nod for her second feature, Luhrmann's "William Shakespeare's 'Romeo + Juliet'" (1996). Martin created highly stylized, dazzling set pieces that utilized references from various time periods, particularly in the masquerade ball and the funeral sequences.In January 1997, Martin and Luhrmann married after nearly a decade of professional and romantic engagement. Meanwhile, the happy couple embarked on their third feature collaboration, "Moulin Rouge" (2002) - the last in Luhrmann's "Red Curtain" trilogy that many considered to be the most satisfying. Faced with recreating Parisian streets, as well as the titular nightspot on soundstages in Australia, Martin more than rose to the challenge. Her richly detailed sets and extravagant clothing - co-designed with Angus Straithie - provided vibrant color and a dazzling visual sense to the film. Critics and audiences may have been divided over the merits of the musical, but there was no denying Martin's distinct contributions, which earned her Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Martin again served as both production designer and costume designer for Luhrmann's epic ode to their native country, "Australia" (2008), a period romance set during World War II that focused on an English aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) who inherits land far from home and joins forces with a rough-and-tumble cattle driver (Hugh Jackman) who protects her from greedy land barons. Martin again earned critical kudos and an Academy Award nod for her costume design. Once again, the couple worked together on Luhrmann's next project, a lavish take on the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic "The Great Gatsby" (2013). Although the film in general received mixed reviews, Martin was nominated for two Academy Awards, for production design and costume design, and won them both.
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