Just stop oil / Just stop oil via AP
LONDON — Climate protesters threw soup at Vincent van Gogh’s ‘sunflowers’ at London’s National Gallery on Friday to protest fossil fuel extraction, but caused no damage to the oil-covered painting. glass.
The group Just Stop Oil, which wants the UK government to stop new oil and gas projects, said activists threw two cans of tomato soup at the oil painting, one of the most iconic works by the Dutch artist. The two demonstrators also glued themselves to the wall of the gallery.
The soup spattered the glass covering the painting and its gilded frame. The gallery said “there is some minor damage to the frame but the paintwork is unscathed”. It was cleaned and returned to its place in the gallery on Friday afternoon.
The work is one of many versions of “Sunflowers” that Van Gogh painted in the late 1880s.
London’s Metropolitan Police said officers arrested two people on suspicion of criminal damage and aggravated trespassing.
“Specialist officers have now removed them and they have been taken into custody at a central London police station,” the force said in a statement.
A group of protesters from the same group then gathered at police headquarters and sprayed yellow paint on the rotating ‘New Scotland Yard’ sign in front of it. Several also stuck to the road, blocking traffic. According to the police, 24 people were arrested.
Just Stop Oil has drawn attention and criticism for targeting artworks in museums. In July, Just Stop Oil campaigners glued themselves to the frame of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and John Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’ at the National Gallery.
Activists also blocked bridges and intersections across London during two weeks of protests.
The wave of protests comes as the UK government opens a new round of licenses for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, despite criticism from environmentalists and scientists who say the move undermines the country’s commitment to tackling climate change.