The beautiful artwork features over 60 handmade bronze bird sculptures perched on poles, above doorways and awnings along Bridge and Grosvenor streets in the city centre. The Distance of your Heart reflects on the distance of Australia to other parts of the world and aims to inspire hope for many city visitors who feel lonely and homesick when separated from their loved ones.
“Sydney is big but the birds are small, tiny, delicate, fragile – just like we are as human beings,” said artist Tracey Emin. “Sometimes we can feel lost and sad, but the sight of a bird can give us hope.”
The artwork was unveiled at a ceremony hosted by Lord Mayor Clover Moore in Macquarie Place Park. “These small and delicate birds will provide a moment to pause and reflect in our fast paced city,” said the Lord Mayor. “Tracey Emin is one of the world’s most significant contemporary artists and we’re delighted that her latest work will brighten the lives of people in our city.
“The Distance of your Heart is part of our ongoing work to improve the city centre with new artworks and revitalised public spaces. 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.”
The centrepiece of the work is a bird bath positioned in Macquarie Place, with the inscription The Distance of your Heart. The location is the site of the Obelisk of Distances designed by Francis Greenway from which the distance to various locations in NSW are measured, along the earliest roads developed in the colony.
“Just as the obelisk measured the distances of colonial roads and landmarks, my artwork will measure the distance of my heart,” said Emin.
From a solitary bird placed on the Macquarie Place birdbath, Emin’s birds are dotted across the city, inviting people to slow down and think about those they love, whether close by or far away.
“Public sculpture can be about something really delicate, intimate and special,” said Emin. “A small bird on a window ledge is a beautiful thing. It’s very simple, it’s not difficult, but it will make people’s lives in the city go just that little bit slower.”
The project was curated by Barbara Flynn as part of the City Centre Public Art Program. “Permanent and temporary artworks and support events are bringing a focus, distinction and richness to Sydney’s major civic spaces,” said Ms Flynn. “Tracey’s work is the first of a few important new commissions by artists for the area around Circular Quay.”
“I’ve always thought of Tracey as a fearless artist. Her work for Sydney is extraordinary for the way it combines emotion with thought, providing richness for both heart and mind.”
Tracey Emin was born in Croydon, United Kingdom and lives and works in London. Her art is one of disclosure, using her life events as inspiration for works ranging from painting, drawing, video and installation, to photography, needlework and sculpture. Emin reveals her hopes, humiliations, failures and successes in candid and, at times, excoriating work that is frequently both tragic and humorous.
In 2007 Emin represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale, becoming the second woman artist to ever do so. That same year, Emin was made a Royal Academician and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art, a Doctor of Letters from the University of Kent and a Doctor of Philosophy from London Metropolitan University. In 2011 she became the Royal Academy’s Professor of Drawing and in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts.
For more information, visit: www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au for details.
Image: Tracey Emin, The Distance of Your Heart (installation view) – photo by Paul Patterson