Cultural and creative life

Living sculpture honours the natural world in Green Square

An artwork to last more than 100 years

While I Live I Will Grow

Maria Fernanda Cardoso describes her new Green Square artwork as a performance of bottle trees that will last for more than 100 years.

While I Live I Will Grow is a large spiral sandstone sculpture with Queensland bottle trees that will slowly mature into magnificent giants. The trees will grow together alongside the Green Square community.

Green Square residents and visitors will share their lives with one of the most unique Australian natural wonders. The bottle trees will double in girth every year, their spectacular growth and transformation on full display.

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For Cardoso, this extended lifespan brings tremendous satisfaction.

“We humans tend to think that aging is bad. We tend to believe that we lose our beauty, our vigour, our health. But trees don’t think like that. The older they are, the more magnificent they become.”

While I Live I will Grow
While I Live I will Grow

Bottle trees are indigenous to Australia and incredibly diverse. Emblematic of a dry continent, they were used for millennia by Aboriginal peoples to access water.

This aspect of water management also speaks to the history of the former South Sydney Hospital site where the artwork stands. Once wetlands, the area was later drained to make way for industry, leading to drought and later flooding. Today, water management is a key aspect of the Green Square renewal project.

“I’ve been told people love bottle trees and like to hug them,” she says. “We often neglect the natural world. I want to bring the natural world back into the studio, into the museum, and now back to the city.”

Published 19 June 2018, updated 29 November 2023