Artist shows cost to environment through Money Tree sculpture

Brendan Rees

Money may not grow on trees but a recent sculpture outside the State Library has delivered a powerful message about the value of protecting nature.

Adorned with recycled materials including bushfire-rescued timber, thousands of coins, and keys, the 300kg Money Tree art installation, which was made by Victorian artist Michael Moerkerk, celebrated the 40th anniversary of Greening Australia while symbolising the connection between the environment and the economy.

The artwork, which was set up for public viewing until April 11, consisted of 40 branches, each representing every year of Greening Australia’s history, as the organisation continues to play a leading role in protecting Australia’s environment. Mr Moerkerk said he hoped his 3.5-metre-high sculpture would inspire others to invest in, restore, and protect nature.

“As someone who values nature and has seen first-hand the devastating effects of climate change, living among drought and bushfire-affected communities, I am incredibly honoured to have helped Greening Australia and Bank Australia bring the Money Tree to life in such an iconic and central Melbourne location,” he said.

“By blending the stump of a reclaimed red gum and harmoniously intertwining it with recycled coins, the tree represents the connection between the environment and the economy.”

Bank Australia also teamed up with Greening Australia to mark the 40th anniversary occasion, and to help “dispel the notion that acting on climate change is a costly endeavour.”

“Deloitte Access Economics estimates that natural disasters currently cost the Australian economy about $38 billion a year – a bill set to double by 2060,” Bank Australia managing director Damien Walsh said.

Greening Australia chief operating officer Ian Rollins said 40 years was an “incredible milestone” for the organisation, and while what has been achieved to date was “extraordinary,” “change has only become more urgent in 2022.” •

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