Life 13 – Mitochondrial Roots

Life 13 – Mitochondrial Roots

148cms x 136cms

(nb video with stills showing how Mitochondrial Roots was made is at bottom of page here)




The “story” is about male primogeniture.  It was only 2 years ago that the UK government agreed that a first born, even if it was female, could take the throne. It’s only 2014 and we are supposed to be civilised and living in a country with equal opportunities legislation! Throughout history male primogeniture has meant “keeping it in the family”, but recent discoveries about mitochondrial dna, mean that we can all trace ourselves back to one ancestor…who was female.  To “keep it in the family” perhaps we should have had female primogeniture. Anyway, the quilt says:
No matter what colour our skin is, or our language, or our culture, we all share ancestors from the people who built Stonehenge, or who rode with Genghis Khan, or set sail across the oceans in canoes, or who planted papyrus on the banks of the Nile. Everyone alive today can trace their lineage back over 2 hundred thousand years to one woman, Mitochondrial Eve.
The following names are stitched onto the roots shown above.

Artimisia Gentileschi, Catalina de Erauso, Catherine de Medici, Flora Sandes, Judith Leyster, Laura Bassi, Lucrezia Borgia, Madam de Staet, Maria Montessori, Maria Theresa, Properzia Ross, Mary Queen of Scots, Barbara Hepworth, Indira Gandhi, George Eliot, Lady Jane Grey, Jenny Joseph, Wendy Cope Anne Bronte, Sappho, Clepatra, Hildegard of Bingen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, Mirabai, Elizabeth 1, Catherine the Great, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Emily Dickinson, Marie Curie, Emily Murphy, Helen Keller, Annie Besant, Simone de Beauvioir, Mother Teresa, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Seacole, Rosalind Franklin, Jocelyn Bell Burnett, Esther Lederberg, Chien-Shiung Wu, Lise Meitner, Nettie Stevens, Emmeline Pankhurst, Boudicca, Nancy Astor, Dorothy Hodgkin,Millicent Fawcett, Billie Holiday, Eva Peron, Betty Friedon, Marie Stopes, Anne Frank, Germaine Greer, Wangari Maathai, Shirin Ebadi, Malala Yousafzai, Marie Antoinette, Amelia Earhart, Amy Johnson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Caroline Norton, Elizabeth Gaskell, Virginia Woolf, Edith Cavell,Elsie Inglis, Ellen Isabel Jones, Grace Kimmins, Lady Constance Lytton, Christabel Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst, Queen Isabella of Spain, Pocahontas, Frances E Willard, Lucy Stone, Dorothea Dix, Sojourner Truth, Edith Cavell, Virginia Apgar, Christine de Pizan, Hrotsvitha, Theodora, Maria Agnesi, Mary Anning, Florence Merriam Bailey,Laura Maria Caterina Bassi, Ruth Benedit, Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Blackwell, Annie Jump Cannon, Emilie du Chatelet, Cleopatra the Alchemist, Gerty T Cori, Eva Crane, Artemesia, Gertrude Bell Elion, Alice Evans, Sophie Germain, Maria Geoppert-Mayor, Elena Conrnaro Piscopia, Mary Fairfax Somerville, Ada Lovelace, Sofia Kovalevskaya, Alicia Stott, Amalie Emmy Noether, Anna Maria Von Schurman, Anne of Austria, Tanni Grey Thompson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Naomi Anderson, Annie Arniel, Gertrude Ansell, Olympe de Gouge, Mary Sophie Allen, Louisa Garrett Anderson, Frances Balfour, Mary Gawthorpe, Lydia Becker, Ethel Bentham, Teresa Billington Greig, Margaret Bondfield, Mary Crudelius, Emily Davison, Nellie Hall, Mrs Beeton, Rosa Parks, Lady Caroline Lamb, Irene Sendler, Ealizabeth Eames, Alexandra Kollantai, Julia Bentley, Abigail Adams, Eudora Welty, Ada Lovelance, Margaret Macdonald, Queen Victoria, Mrs Siddons, Elizabeth 2, Kathryn Bigelow, and Anne Boleyn.  (pardon any typing errors – they’re all ok on the quilt!)



  1. I have never seen such powerful work done in fabric, or any other way, in my life. It leaves me breathless. I am including all of the pieces in the Life series in this comment. You speak for all women, perhaps especially those who,even in these days, are not feminists. I regret that I will not ever be able to see your work, and certainly not be able to purchase it. You have changed the medium forever.

    • Thank you Julie, and the others who have so generously commented here about Life 4. I’m touched that you spent time to tell me about how the quilts have made you feel. Annabel.

I love to read your comments, thank you.