THE SEAHORSE | 11
NEVER GIVE UP
BY KARIN CATT NEWTON-JOHN AWARD JOINT RECIPIENT Never give up. I don’t believe in the word “can’t”. You only live once and you have to do and experience as much as possible. I want to live a really interesting life and I believe that’s something everyone should aim for. I returned to Newcastle recently for the Alumni Awards. The University put on a fantastic event and it was an honour to be surrounded by so many amazing graduates who are achieving great things on national and international levels. Newcastle was a fabulous place in which to grow up and it wasn’t until I started travelling the world that I truly began to appreciate what I took for granted on a daily basis. I started travelling with my parents, Cyril and Sonja, when I was a child. My parents showed me an amazing childhood, encouraging me to explore all sorts of things. My father’s library was a huge resource and his camera collection an endless fascination. I took my first Polaroid when I was five years old and even before I was a teenager I would sneak out of my bedroom window late at night to shoot bands. I was 12 when I shot my first celebrity portrait of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence. This was my first foray into celebrity portraiture. I still have a strong connection to my home city. I wanted to acknowledge Newcastle as the seeding ground for my work so it was wonderful to come full circle in 2006 and bring my National Portrait Gallery exhibition Famous to the Newcastle Art Gallery. The exhibition attracted so many primary, secondary and tertiary education students and I was thrilled to inspire younger audiences. I remember one teenager who told me he had never been to an art gallery and attended only because he saw my portrait of Eminem on the advertising material. He was so inspired by all of the photos and I was so pleased that my work could have such an impact on him. I try to get back to Newcastle as often as I can. At the moment I keep a place in both New York and LA because of work. Sometimes I have to look in my diary to remember what I did three days ago and there are periods where I live out of a suitcase and survive on coffee and chocolate when my schedule is hectic, but I love my life. I never wanted to get to 80 years old and think “I should have done more”. I found it humbling to be surrounded by others with a similar mindset at the Alumni Awards. It was exciting to see the scope of students the University has produced, how far they have travelled around the world and the areas in which they have succeeded. Achievements come from perseverance and hard work. If I could offer one piece of advice it would be to never take “no” as an answer. If anybody tells you “no”, there is always another way to do something. Don’t accept “no”. Ever.
MS KARIN CATT Bachelor of Arts 1991 Ms Karin Catt has achieved international success as a fashion and portrait photographer, is highly sought after by global celebrities and published across the world. Russell Crowe, Bill Clinton, Eminem, Sting, Nicole Kidman, the Dalai Lama and Jack Nicholson are just some of Karin’s subjects. Karin is the youngest photographer to hold a solo exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. Famous, in 2006, included 99 photographs of statesmen, sporting heroes, musicians, and celebrities. The exhibition’s curator Simon Elliot said Karin would “go down in history as one of the greatest photographers of our times”. Named in the same class of photographer as Cecil Beaton, Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon, Karin’s portfolio includes letters of recommendation from leading industrial designer Marc Newson, VicePresident of Apple Jonathon Ive and Walt Disney Studios. In 2001 Karin won the Magazine Publishers of Australia Award for Best Use of Photography/Photographic Feature and this year her work was featured in the First Ladies exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.