Two climate campaigners managed to evade security at the National Gallery in central London on Friday before defiling Vincent Van Gogh’s celebrated masterpiece Sunflowers by tipping a can of soup across the glass protecting the canvas.
The Just Stop Oil activists, part of the Extinction Rebellion splinter group, walked into a room at the gallery in Trafalgar Square at about 11am, the campaign group said.
They were not taken into custody until they delivered a sermon on energy use and the “unfair” distribution of global wealth.
A video shows the two women wearing Just Stop Oil t-shirts gluing one hand each to the wall below the painting.
One of the climate change activists, 21 year-old Phoebe Plummer, then shouted: “What is worth more? Art or life?
— Damien Gayle (@damiengayle) October 14, 2022
The pair were later arrested for criminal damage and aggravated trespass, before officers began “de-bonding” their hands they had glued to the wall.
It’s the 14th day of demonstrations linked to the group – which wants the government to stop all new oil and gas licences.
The group’s activists have been blocking roads around Westminster and elsewhere in the capital in the last few days, as Breitbart London reported.
They have also blockaded oil depots and sprawled themselves across the road to prevent ordinary commuters from travelling in London as part of what they have described as an ongoing “occupation” until their demands are met.
These include no new oil or gas extraction licences are granted as well as a redistribution of global wealth is instigated to mitigate the inherent “unfairness” of wealth and ownership of “the means of production.”
Plummer expanded on their long list of complaints Friday morning by yelling: “Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting? Or the protection of our planet and people?
“The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of oil crisis.
“Fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold hungry families. They can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup,” she added, brandishing a tin.
The painting is one of seven Sunflowers works Van Gogh created in 1888 and 89, five of which are on display in galleries and museums across the world.
The artist created them to decorate his house in Arles, France, before a visit from his friend, the artist Paul Gauguin.
The gallery said his paintings of sunflowers are “are among Van Gogh’s most iconic and best-loved works”.
The action comes three months after members of the same group pasted paper over John Constable’s the Hay Wain in the same gallery.
— Ro Carey (@RonanCareless) October 14, 2022
Met Police Commander Karen Findlay, Major Ops and Public Order, said: “Both individuals who have committed criminal damage and aggravated trespass at the National Gallery have been arrested,” and said they are being debonded to take into custody.
“Wholly unacceptable behaviour, not tolerated,” she added, the Daily Telegraph reports.