This sculpture comprises of the trunk of a yellow-box eucalyptus tree partly covered with 23-carat gold leaf applied over fibreglass, mounted on a terra-cotta tile base set into the pavement.
Standing 10.7 metres high, the sculpture is located on the corner of Hay & Sussex Street in Haymarket, the symbolic entry point to Chinatown.
The artwork uses Chinese Feng Shui principles mixed with Australian native materials including the yellow box tree, gold, earth and water. A wooden pagoda would traditionally be built at this site to protect the rivers and ensure wealth to the village. Water flows from the golden sculpture to symbolise money and life.
Said to represent positive energy and good fortune, the sculpture incorporates the Shui Kou elements – or five natural elements – of wood, water, earth, fire and gold to harmonise the natural environment with the urban environment. The use of gold leaf also provides a historical link to the early Chinese settlers in the gold fields that surrounded the site of the tree’s original location in Condobolin, NSW.
The tree is said to encourage harmony and serenity in this vibrant location.
Lin Li was born in China in 1960 and studied sculpture in Luxiun College of Fine Arts from 1982-1987. She arrived in Australia in 1990 and studied at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales from 1993-1995, completing a Master in Sculpture.
This artwork was commissioned by the Sydney Open Museum, as part of the Haymarket upgrade.
Funds to cover the cost of the project were provided by the City of Sydney and the Chinese community.
It was installed in September 1999 and unveiled to the public in October that year.