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Sir John Edward Sulston

1 of 5 portraits by Marc Quinn

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sir John Edward Sulston

by Marc Quinn
sample of sitter's DNA in agar jelly mounted in stainless steel, 2001
10 1/2 in. x 8 1/8 in. (266 mm x 205 mm) overall
Commissioned with support from the Wellcome Trust, 2001
Primary Collection
NPG 6591

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Marc Quinn (1964-), Artist. Artist or producer of 5 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Much of Marc Quinn's work explores concepts of identity through a focus on the body's form and representation. Although entirely abstract, this portrait is an accurate display of Sulston's essential identity since it is composed of his own DNA.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Howgate, Sarah; Nairne, Sandy, A Guide to Contemporary Portraits, 2009, p. 13 Read entry

    Nobel Prize-winning scientist Sir John Sulston (b. 1942) is a central figure in the development of DNA analysis and interpretation. From 1992 to 2000 he was Director of the Sanger Centre, Cambridge, where he directed the British contribution to the international Human Genome Project. This portrait of Sulston by Marc Quinn develops links between science and the arts, raising questions regarding the conceptual representation of the individual. Although entirely abstract, it is an acutely accurate representation of the subject’s essential identity since it is composed of his own DNA. Much of Quinn’s work explores identity through a focus on the body’s form, both in terms of materials used and representation.

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 2001back to top

Current affairs

Labour wins a second landslide general election victory campaigning on improvements to public services based on private finance projects. The Conservative party proved itself to be out-of-touch by ignoring public services and campaigning on the issue of Britain's membership of the EU. The day after the election William Hague resigned as leader of the Conservative Party.

Art and science

The Eden Project opens in Cornwall. The eco-centre, conceived by Tim Smit, replicates tropical and temporal climates and houses plants from all over the world in two domed biomes. The project is both a large-scale scientific experiment to study the environmental changes in different biomes over time, and a visitor attraction teaching the public about the natural environment.


On 11th September (9/11) America comes under foreign attack for the first time since Pearl Harbour when Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists hijack four planes, flying two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre, and one into the Pentagon; the fourth plane crashed in a field.
George Bush launches his 'War on Terror' by invading Afghanistan to overthrown the Taliban and capture Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda.

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