The City of Sydney has spent $912,000 on a new art installation featuring 67 bronze birds perched throughout the Sydney CBD.

Created by internationally acclaimed artist Tracey Emin, The Distance of your Heart reflects on Australia’s distance from the rest of the world, and is dedicated to all the sad, lonely people who are separated from their loved ones.

The recently-unveiled installation consists of handmade bronze bird sculptures perched on poles, above doorways and awnings along Bridge and Grosvenor streets in the city centre. The trail of bronze birds spans almost one kilometre, ending in a birthbath in Macquarie Place Park that is inhabited by a lone bird.

“Sydney is big but the birds are small, tiny, delicate, fragile – just like we are as human beings,” says Emin.

“Sometimes we can feel lost and sad, but the sight of a bird can give us hope.”

“With its underlying concept of global migration and travel, this artwork will particularly resonate with the many Sydney residents born overseas and the millions of visitors who visit our shores each year,” adds Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

Public opinion of the artwork has been divided, with some people failing to understand why City of Sydney spent almost $1 million to install a flock of fake (yet realistic) birds around the city, particularly when there is no shortage of actual birds perched on the city’s buildings at any given time.

Emin has defended the $912k project (which actually came in on budget), saying that it may seem like a lot of money, but it had to cover things like health and safety, cherry pickers, fixing and engineering, not to mention the two tonnes of bronze required to create the birds.

Tracey Emin was made Professor of Drawing at The Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2011, and was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts in 2012.