Danish artist Ulla Plougmand-Turner has created portraits of the “Seven Daughters of Eve” using paint containing reconstructed ancient DNA. Ulla mixed sequences of ancient DNA, produced in an Oxford laboratory, into paint to create the images.
The pictures represent seven women, from whom it is thought the majority of Europeans can trace their DNA line. Described as “a fusion of science and art”, the paintings went on exhibition on Monday at Wolfson College, Oxford.
Prof Bryan Sykes, the head of human genetics at the University of Oxford, discovered that the majority of Europeans are descended, on the maternal line, from one of seven women – who he named the “Seven Daughters of Eve”.
Professor Sykes identified the seven different clusters of DNA in 2000 after studying 6,000 random samples of mitochondrial DNA.
“I know how it [DNA] can survive thousands of years and what I’ve done is to reverse this process making new DNA, reconstructed, and then put that into the paint,” he said.
Ms Plougmand-Turner described the experience of painting the “Seven Daughters of Eve” – named Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine and Jasmine – as “amazing”.
“When you put the DNA in the paint it was amazing, you felt that something really strong was happening,” she said.
The exhibition runs until Friday, 22 June.
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