Breath Breath Breath, Arcademy Creative lab for primary school children by Hazuki Katagai.

17 September 2021


Building the Ark… It’s not just about constructing a space. It is a commitment to recirculating creativity. Which is why we looked straight at the source by involving the ITS Finalists. Collaborating with those who have passed through ITS is a fundamental part of ITS Arcademy. Arriving here in Trieste at the start of their careers, merely just out of school, some still studying. This is a chance to give back and pass on to next generations of creatives from those who have walked in the same shoes.

When we called out to finalists to get involved in proposing and developing labs and workshops we couldn’t have hoped for a more amazing response. Hazuki Katagai (‘Weapons of Love’ Artwork project presented at ITS 2016 and ‘The Breathing’ jewellery collection 2019) replied immediately and from there onwards a little adventure of words and thoughts was kindled into not only a beautiful adaptation of her concept ‘The Breathing’ but she also wrote and illustrated an accompanying children’s story.

A delightful story book that approaches her breathing concept in a friendly way and sparks curiosity in different cultures, a celebration of life itself in the simple but essential movement of breathing that brings us all together as companions of this world.

We interviewed Hazuki to find out how she was inspired to make the creative lab ‘Breath Breath Breath’.

ITS: It’s been over a year since we started playing with the idea of a creative lab. Living through all four seasons of this extraordinarily challenging year. How has it been for you?

HK: Time flies so fast! It was a long “journey”, but I really enjoyed developing the idea of a creative lab. Thank you for your big support for that long time!

ITS: Your creative lab is a celebration of breathing. What inspired you to give shape to breathing?

HK: I was influenced by my past work “The Breathing”, and was inspired by the concept of breathing as seen in Eastern philosophies and my personal motto: “Believe in the power of imagination”. I think “Breathing” isn’t merely a physical activity, but also a way to recognise one’s own existence. It is life itself. By visualising the invisible energy, I wanted to make people face their own true self in an honest way, cherishing the connection with others, and growing their awareness about all life on the planet.

ITS: ‘Breath Breath Breath’ is also a beautiful testimony on how to teach children the importance of breathing. How did you find adapting your breathing concept for children? And how did you find making a children’s book?

HK: In the lab program, the participants can make a crown which can visualise their own breathing. I hope children feel their own breath, recognise their existence and become aware that “we are a part of the world”. Then, I decided to make the picture book to convey the concept more easily and friendly. In the picture book, I tried to explain my concept by introducing stories related to breathing in the view of Asian/Japanese cultures such as a myth, religion, Eastern philosophy, etc… I also added some actions to play around and animate the movement of breathing. I hope young participants will enjoy them and are curious about different cultures and feel there is a natural mutual understanding.

ITS: Some of your work plays with making the invisible visible and giving form to emotions. Can you imagine an emergency first aid kit based on this idea?

HK: I would say my emergency first aid kit would be the “power of imagination”, which is invisible but surely makes us happy and encouraged. I actually already made something like that with “Weapons of Love” which I presented at ITS in 2016: it was meant to visualise friendship or affection to people. I think that artwork could be an actual aid kit to make someone happier.

ITS: What ideas are you working on now?

HK: I am planning several projects at the same time. One of them is a project inspired by mythology and archeology in Japan. I am using metal as a material for the first time in my artworks. I am very excited about this. Another one is a plan to work on a new sustainable project, using extra (unusable for products) cloths and threads which were kindly provided by a Japanese textile company.

ITS: Are you excited to come back to Trieste to present your creative lab in ITS Arcademy?

HK: I can’t wait to see you all, the finalists and ITS family, and also to learnnmore about ITS Arcademy. And I would like to learn more about Trieste, to develop a project inspired by it! I’ve walked a little around the city before. I climbed from a beautiful church to the top of the hills and looked at the city. Blue ocean, green leaves, deep orange and creamy brown houses, it was a very cosy and beautiful view.

ITS: We’re so far apart but yet connected in many unseen ways. In what ways to you feel close to Italy?

HK: I have lots of blissful memories in Italy, and they always connect me to Italy in my heart. The memories of ITS are definitely one of my blissful memories.

ITS: What would you save on the ark of creativity?

HK: I would like to save my conceptual approach itself which is across art and fashion. My approach values giving new aspects to people who wear my collection, and lets them stimulate their own imagination or new view.

I think that our body is a boundary between the world and one’s inner self, so I’m trying to propose a question “What is the world/ What are we?” through my wearable works.

To me, our body is a sensor, it feels and recognises the world and others (outside of yourself), also your inner self. I believe our body is a tool to get stronger connections with the world and ourselves. I think I can propose my concepts as questions to people by actually making them use and wear my works: they are like a guide to let you understand yourself or touch a new aspect of the world.

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