Peace put into fo­cus

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

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.

Photo: KA­RINA ABA­DIA

Mean­ing­ful mes­sage: Artist Stu­art Robert­son has been com­mis­sioned by Auck­land War Memo­rial Mu­seum to make a short film called

Photo: STU­ART ROBERT­SON

Ten­der mo­ment: Ac­tor Os­car Kight­ley con­tem­plates what peace means to him.

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