An oil portrait of a young man with red, curly hair. He has red marks on his cheeks, and looks directly at the viewer. The portrait is cropped, so we see his head, and a glimpse of what he is wearing - a white t-shirt and a green hooded top.
Matthew McCabe, MCR1 variant phenotype, 2019. © Matthew McCabe.Credit

Matthew McCabe

MC1R variant phenotype, 2019

Oil on canvas, 70 x 50 cm

This is a painting of the artist’s son and his incredible orange-coloured hair. Red hair is linked to a variation in the MC1R gene sequence that reduces the amount of melanin in the skin. This allows more UV light to penetrate and activate vitamin D synthesis. Ireland has the world’s highest percentage (approximately 10%) of ‘People With Red Hair’ (PWRH). It remains socially acceptable to single out PWRH because of their physical appearance. The look of defiance in his son’s expression is not unintentional


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