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Daughters of Eve in DNA Paintings

Artist Ulla Plougmand-Turner has created paintings of The Seven Daughters of Eve using paint that contains reconstructed ancient DNA manufactured by Oxford Ancestors.

Most genetic genealogists are very familiar with Bryan Sykes’ Seven Daughters of Eve, the 7 “clan mothers” (Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine, and Jasmine) from whom the majority of Europeans are believed to obtain their mitochondrial DNA. Note that there are many more “clan mothers” located throughout the world – I, for instance, am descended from clan Aiyana.

The exhibition was commissioned by Professor Bryan Sykes, the head of Human Genetics at Oxford University and the founder of Oxford Ancestors. Prof. Sykes met Ms. Plougmand-Turner by chance when he was taking DNA samples from villagers at Longleat.

“Ulla happened to be visiting and so I also tested her. We discovered that we both descend from Tara. Our backgrounds are very different but we had an immediate rapport.

According to Ulla:

“It affected the texture of the paint. The mDNA spreads like strands of string. Brian had given particular colours to each goddess. I am Tara and my colour is burnt yellow, Jasmine is red and Velda a striking purple. We mixed each shade with the DNA from descendants of each clan mother. I was careful to use seven different sets of brushes so that the DNA in each picture would not be contaminated.

Here are a few of Ms. Plougmand-Turner’s “Daughters of Eve” paintings:

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The Seven Daughters of Eve exhibition continues at Wolfson College, Oxford, until June 22. The paintings are not for sale as they will be displayed at the offices of Oxford Ancestors following the exhibition. Prints of the paintings are available from the Jennifer Gerard Gallery in Stert Street, Abingdon, or from the Gallery’s website.

There is more information at the BBC, the Telegraph, thisisoxfordshire, and the Oxford Times.

Thanks to John Hawks [through Hsien at EyeonDNA]!

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

7 Comments

  1. Just came across your blog for the first time and felt I had to leave a comment for you. Really loved what I have seen here. A wonderful painting with such beautiful colours and depth. I will definately come back from time to time to see your future work. If you would like to visit my site and leave a comment for me in my guestbook I´d welcome you to do that as I always enjoy hearing from fellow art enthusiasts.

    All the best, Anna

  2. Nice work ,droped here bt accident but will definatly return.Very nice use of form and color,keep it up, as I can testify it takes a lot of work and endurance to make it as an artist ,good luck : David Billet

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