Queenstown man’s flower power

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A Queenstowner has embarked on an ambitious world-wide charitable art project to raise tens of millions of dollars for peace.

Stu Robertson is photographing a white silk rose in the hands of 10,000 people from every country in the world.

The white rose – the oldest rose on the planet – symbolises peace and love, Robertson explains.

Robertson envisages spinning off his photography into books, films and exhibitions to raise $50 million to $100m for kids’ charities and humanitarian organisations promoting peace.

Moving here from Auckland with wife Semele three years ago – they own the country’s largest event management business, The Orange Group – Robertson launched his ‘Peace in 10,000 Hands’ project on June 7 last year.

That was the day Semele posed with the rose for Robertson’s first photo.

Since then the Queenstowner has visited 10 countries and shot about 1200 pairs of hands holding the rose, along with thousands of other images.

In Los Angeles Robertson’s shot actors like Brooke Shields, Danny DeVito and Marcia Cross – and convicted murderers.

Everyone photographed is asked what peace means for them and what they think the path to peace is.

After the 10,000th photo is taken, Robertson says, he’ll put up a world map in his Queenstown home gallery with red dots showing where each was taken and another map showing where his subjects come from – so far he’s bagged about 50 nationalities. This month Robertson held his first gallery exhibition, in Los Angeles, which raised $3000 for Human Rights Watch.

Robertson says the project’s cost him “a healthy six figures” to date – his camera gear alone is worth more than $150,000.

Asked if the project isn’t rather idealistic, Robertson answers: “It would be idealistic to think that this project will create peace in the world but I think it’s not idealistic to think it has the chance to create a genuine conversation for peace.

“With the funding, we want to create change for millions of people. The Facebook page is growing by a few hundred a day – it’s an idea that really resonates with people,” Robertson says.