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MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit


Mary Heseltine is a retired data analyst who now concentrates her interests in textiles.

Mary contributed to a textile exhibition in connection with the celebration of the 1500th anniversary of the birth of St Brigid, which opened in Dublin on 1 February 2024, in conjunction with the (new) early Spring Festival Bank Holiday in her honour.

Mary’s background research led her to the MRC MBU and, in particular to our images and videos, and communications with Professor Edmund Kunji. Mary’s exhibit is hung in The Irish Patchwork Society (IPS) national exhibition at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre and the exhibition closes on 29 February. 

Artists statement:

A Common Thread

“Mitochondrial Energy” 60 generations from St Brigid to our times*

There are organelles in the human cells called Mitochondria that keep the human BODY RUNNING, providing the powerhouse for each and every cell.

This energy for life is the hidden asset that each woman passes on to all her children. 

It is the Common Thread that links all women back to St Bridget and to Eve, to the beginning of human time and beyond.

Modern genetic science uses evidence of MITOCHONDRIAL DNA to trace generations and genetic modifications in the human genome back through time along the female line.  this particular piece of genetic wizardry is only passed down from the mother, not the father.

Amazing to think that whatever the origins are of the St Brigid story and her achievements, we all carry the mitochondrial thread. It’s the women who’ve been keeping it all ticking all this time.  of course!

*approximately, since Brigid’s time. based on 25 years per generation

Inspiration:  An attempt to convey the mystery and wonder of our mitochondrial inheritance, woman to woman since the beginning of time.

Fabrics: Cotton hand-dyes, cotton wadding

Techniques: Free-cut shapes, machine stitched elements, hand stitched borders and sleeve.

Grateful thanks to MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, University of Cambridge