Kiwi's Peace in 10,000 Hands art project captures Antarctica

Dr Charlie Lee holding the white rose in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.
Dr Charlie Lee holding the white rose in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Photo credit: Stuart Robertson/Peace In 10,000 Hands

A Kiwi artist's photography project aiming to photograph a single white rose in the hands of 10,000 different people has captured the seventh continent.

Stuart Robertson has been travelling with 'Peace In 10,000 Hands' for almost five years and so far the rose has been held by around 3500 people from more than 50 countries, including the Dalai Lama, before making its way to Antarctica.

Taking the white silk rose around the world, Robertson aims to capture peace and what it means to different people from different walks of life.

"A lot of people have talked about peace to them [being] silence and solace," he told Newshub.

"Peace leads the way [in Antarctica]… There's a complete sense of camaraderie, brotherhood, of working together for a common goal."

Antarctica, preserved by a treaty between 53 countries including New Zealand, had its own appeal.

"It's very hard to find silence in the world today, as we know it," Robertson said.

"In Antarctica they have what they call 'deafening silence'. It wasn't really until I experienced that… I didn't fully comprehend what people were hinting at what peace meant to them.

"It's bereft of any kind of sound. When the wind blows there's no trees, there's no bugs, there's no animals."

He called the silence of the continent "challenging".

"But when you get used to it, and when you embrace it, it creates space in your mind to be present and mindful, and to let you apply your thought patterns to other things rather than just existing."

As well as photographing the white rose, while on the ice Robertson has tried to capture what that silence and peace is like, as part of a film called What Silence Looks Like.

"A lot of people have great difficulty describing Antarctica in words. It's so awe-inspiring and incredible that wrapping it up into words and describing to someone… what Antarctica is like is really difficult," he said.

While the project does have a set goal - 10,000 different photographs - Robertson said it's a multi-year journey and there's no rush to complete it.

"There's two goals with that project - one is to raise global conversation and awareness for peace, and the second is to raise $100 million for children's charities globally," he said.

"If I was anywhere busy I could just bang 10,000 pictures out as quickly as I possibly could.

"But this is a journey about under the skin of the world and genuinely giving people who don't have a voice, a voice. It's about making the invisible visible."

Freshly returned from the ice, Robertson is now looking ahead to the next adventure - wherever that may be.

"It really is a journey of discovery for me as much as the people following it. I don't really have any pre-ordained ideas of what I should be doing."