WHAT IS PEACE?
Motivated by the belief that art has the power to challenge and inspire, New Zealand born photographic artist Stuart Robertson created this global art project.
The goal of the project is to create an inspirational collection of photographs of a single white rose, an ancient symbol of peace, in the hands of 10, 000 individuals around the world. Men, women and children from every walk of life and every culture all over the world are united by this project inspiring global peace.
As an artist I am exploring our similarities through art and drawing on the phenomenal power of modern social networks and instant borderless communication that dissolves prejudice and makes mankind more connected than at any other time in history.
It is a huge honour to share your project, Stu. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions:
How long have you been dreaming of creating this project and what inspired you to do so?
Creating a global art project has been a dream for a long time. I only want to be involved in things for the rest of my life that have meaning and can create change. I’m inspired by the belief that visual art can move effortlessly across boarders, break down barriers and inspire people. Peace in 10,000 Hands is the culmination of a lifetime spent in creative fields and dreaming!
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve encountered?
I feel blessed with everything that I’m thrown! There are challenges, for sure, many in fact! Funding is a challenge, but keeps it fresh and me on point. Certain situations in places like Iraq, PKK country in Turkey, Syrian border, Antarctica…. offer challenges in themselves, extreme situations politically and geographically. But all make for incredible memories and images. Electing to not take a flash, lighting or tripod is a challenge. But for me it forces my compulsion that in the moment I take a portrait of someone I am capturing an unguarded moment of humanity. I find less trappings in that moment helps facilitate this honesty in the portrait.
Out of the beautiful images created so far, which are you most emotionally connected to, and why?
I am fascinated by the psychology of personality and unguarded moments, symbolism and storytelling. So it is hard to choose an image or person when you can imagine so many moments shared. Over two thousand five hundred people to date and counting. Celebrities always humble me as they are prepared to put their face to project and endorse it. We are so blessed for the support we have had. Recently while in South Africa I photographed a Khoi woman.
They are pastoralist people and I was told that you could buy a license to hunt them.
It was chilling to hear
I photographed her with her child. Such deep love and emotion expressed in the moment. I love the tenderness and sense of peace a mother offers her child.
What has been your favourite location and what lasting impression has it left with you?
Antarctica. Hands down! Incredible. Such a sensory challenging part pf the planet. No smell. No sound. No orange, red, yellow…. Just white and more white. I flew in on an American Air Force LC130 (the L denoted when they add skis for landing gear to a C130). I stayed at Scott Base for a month and would visit the Americans base McMurdo. I visited and photographed the historic huts of Shackleton and Scott. It was a boyhood dream. 70 percent of the worlds fresh water is locked up there yet it is the direst place on the planet. I saw whales, seals and penguins and marveled at the 24 hour a day sunlight.
How crazy is your itinerary?
Crazy mad! It is go go go the whole time. My wife, Semele, and I do everything for the project. From the images, editing, producing the artworks, exhibitions, to social media and travel planning… it is full one. When away there is always so much to do on the trips too. Longest trip to date has been three months.
When did you start the project, and do you have a timeframe for completing it?
Any chance Toronto is on your list?
I started the project three years ago, I image it would take around a decade for the photography. The project will be a part of the rest of my life. With books, TV, speaking… Yes Toronto is on my list
How has this project changed you as an individual and as an artist?
Both, yes completely. I have seen things I never would have. I now have more tolerance than I ever imagined. I see things differently. I feel things, never felt before. I am an introvert, so I am happy on stage (spent a few years on television and preformed all over the world as a pickpocket) but interpersonal and intimate social situations are difficult for me. So I have had to learn to talk to people and engage with them. That has been a huge change. My ability to capture a moment has refined and I always looking to improve my compositional skills.
In a recent interview, you commented that you have met people from all walks of life. What do you feel these individuals have in common?
Exploring the idea of our interconnectedness as the human race and our similarities in the human condition astound me. It is something that really fascinates me and is one of the core inspirations for the project. The are fundamental and intrinsic differences. But essentially when you boil it down there are more similarities in the human condition than not. I believe this runs deeper than food, warmth and shelter. It is a journey of discovery that will continue to consume my attention and the outcome of the project.
The goal of this project is to generate a global conversation for peace. During your travels, what ‘peace talks’ have you participated in or, what ideas have you learned of as a result of your work?
I have spent time with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Dalai Lama and the people around them. Also engaging each person I photograph on a discussion of peace and what it means to them. The two words that come through consistently are compassion and forgiveness. And that peace starts within. From you to, to your family, to your village, to your town, to your country, to your planet. It changes with you. There are too many caveats to peace. We must learn from our past, our mistakes and move on for the success not only as humans, but for the animals, oceans, plants… everything’s survival and peace rests in our hands. Same headline, same problem, different day simply means we need change.
Artist’s favourite camera and lens?
My favorite camera is the Leica S with the 70mm prime lens, truly stunning and incredible images. It is a medium format camera mainly used in studio situations. Mine travels with me everywhere!
Stuart and his team are entirely self-funded. One hundred percent of proceeds from the sale of artwork go toward the completion of this project.
Visit Peace in 10,000 hands to purchase artwork and to learn more about this incredible project and the locations of museum and gallery exhibitions being held around the world.
Additional information can be found by clicking the following hyperlinks:
60 Minutes Watch the lead story on Stu and Peace in 10,000 Hands
The First Collection Peace in 10,000 Hands book preview
‘The Exquisite Clarity of Standing together’ Watch Stu & Tiki Taane’s museum installation
Change has to start from within.
We each have the power to affect the universal collective consciousness of all living beings in the way we choose to approach and breathe through each moment, each day, a choice in the way we treat our fellow human beings.
How can you make a difference?
Please share this project to move it into the hearts and minds of the world.
PEACE- to live in a compassionate world where we never have to worry about keeping loved ones safe from evil (humans and animals – all lives matter) – Sadie
What does ‘peace’ mean to you?