Bronze art medal titled 'Don't Ruin the World' by Melbourne sculptor Michael Meszaros, 1974. Meszaros submitted this design to a medal competition in France in 1974, a time when France was carrying out nuclear tests in French Polynesia. The medal was his protest against governments 'messing with the world', and it is significant that the globe is positioned to show Australia, which was far closer to the site of the tests than France was. He was not surprised when the medal did not win a prize, but was satisfied that he had 'bearded the lion in its den'.
Bronze medal depicting the planet Earth being crushed between two hands. The map of Australia is visible between the hands.
The planet Earth being crushed between two hands. The map of Australia is visible between the hands.
This is one of 44 art medals in the Museum's collection by Michael Meszaros, dated from 1960 through to 1987, which chart the evolution of a new phase of the medal tradition in Australia. While Australian medals have previously largely been commissioned works associated with official commemorations or major awards, these are personal artworks. In addition to their aesthetic value, they document nearly two decades of Australian life from a personal and popular point of view, drawing on cultural trends, sporting and leisure, and emerging issues such as environmentalism. This is a modern development in Australia, but it harks back to the European tradition, developed in the Renaissance, of medals as artistic works.
For over half a century, sculptors Andor (1900-1973) and Michael (1945- ) Meszaros have created medals that reflect the high points of life in Australia. From major awards and portraits of eminent Australians to artwork celebrating popular culture and the natural world, these objects illuminate our culture and history. Grounded in a centuries-old European art tradition, the medals create connections across disciplines and link such diverse subjects as scientific advances, religious themes, sport, the performing arts and motherhood. Through their public and private commissions and their personal artworks, the Meszaros sculptors have defined the modern Australian medal.
Cultural Gifts Donation from Jennifer M. Shaw, 8 June 2011
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Jennifer M. Shaw
Type of item
105 mm (Width), 12 mm (Depth)
Measurement From Conservation.
Interview with artist, 15 March 2012. Nuclear testing: [Link 1] [accessed 10 April 2012]