Peace put into focus
CELEBRITIES, gang members, homeless people and religious leaders have equal importance in artist Stuart Robertson’s global work Peace in 10,000 Hands.
His vision is to create a lasting conversation about peace by photographing a white rose in the hands of 10,000 people from all over the world.
The photographs will eventually become part of an international exhibition and a coffee table book.
But Aucklanders won’t have to wait to see images from the New Zealand leg of the project. Robertson has created a short film entitled Illuminate: Peace Day as part of Auckland War Memorial Museum’s First World War Centenary Programme.
Robertson started his journey 18 months ago and so far he’s photographed 1750 people in about a dozen countries.
When he takes someone’s photo he’s looking to capture an ‘‘unguarded moment of humanity’’.
‘‘What that means is I’m photographing a moment where someone connects with their inner-most thoughts on peace.’’
The subject isn’t enough prominence days, he says.
‘‘When we say to people ‘what does peace mean to you?’ they give you a look like ‘ I’ve never even thought what peace means to me’.’’
The 44-year-old grew up in given these Glendowie and describes himself as an intensely private person.
‘‘As an artist, part of this challenge has been affording myself the ability to go and speak to people who I have never met before, put a camera in front of their face and say, can I now photograph you holding a rose?’’
Luckily he’s had no trouble engaging people in the project.
‘‘Some people burst into tears and want a hug. It’s been quite amazing.’’
Even famous people who are sometimes shy of strange photographers have been enthusiastic.
He puts this down, in part, to being a New Zealander.
‘‘I think it opens more doors because celebrities never think paparazzi. I photographed Emily Blunt in an airport. If you’re an American and you walk up to her with a camera around your neck, it’s not going to happen.’’
But he’s keen to affirm this isn’t just a collection of celebrity photos.
‘‘The people who’ve made the greatest impression on me exist under what humanity would consider extreme conditions and they are still happy, they still thrive, have a family and are thankful for life.’’
The short film Illuminate: Peace Day incorporates photography, film and audio. It will screen on the museum’s northern facade for three nights in the leadup to the International Day of Peace on September 21. It features well-known personalities like Sir John Kirwan, Sir Richard Hadlee, Oscar Kightley, Annie Crummer, Teuila Blakely, Otis Frizzell and Jerome Kaino.
Robertson can’t wait.
‘‘The museum is internationally recognised so to be able to project the message of peace on the front of it is fantastic.’’
Museum director of public programmes and capital projects Sally Manuireva is supportive of the event.
‘‘We continually look for ways to extend beyond our walls and bring our local communities together.
‘‘Using our iconic building in the Domain as a canvas for this special film is great way to do this,’’ Manuireva says.
Illuminate: Peace Day will be on continuous loop between 6pm and 10pm on the Auckland War Memorial northern facade from September 19 to 21.
Meaningful message: Artist Stuart Robertson has been commissioned by Auckland War Memorial Museum to make a short film called
Tender moment: Actor Oscar Kightley contemplates what peace means to him.