Activists from Just Stop Oil have made an iconic painting by legendary artist Vincent Van Gogh their latest target.
Two members of the group threw soup over the Dutch impressionist’s Sunflowers masterpiece on Friday, demanding the government halt all new oil and gas projects.
They have also glued themselves to the wall of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, where the painting is hung behind glass.
— Damien Gayle (@damiengayle) October 14, 2022
It follows days of disruption in London caused by Just Stop Oil, which says it is responding to the “government’s inaction on both the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis”.
Among the most famous still life pieces ever created, Sunflowers has an estimated value of $84.2 million.
In a statement, the National Gallery confirmed the painting is unharmed, while there has been minor damage to the frame.
Statement from the National Gallery pic.twitter.com/DuZhTbAvbH
— National Gallery (@NationalGallery) October 14, 2022
Phoebe Plummer, 21, from London said: “Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice?
“The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels—everyday life has become unaffordable for millions of cold hungry families—they can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup.
“Meanwhile, crops are failing and people are dying in supercharged monsoons, massive wildfires and endless droughts caused by climate breakdown.
“We can’t afford new oil and gas, it’s going to take everything. We will look back and mourn all we have lost unless we act immediately.”
Environmental groups have upped the ante in recent weeks following confirmation of a new North Sea licensing round.
It opened to bidders last week and is expected to yield north of 100 new licences, paving the way for more oil and gas developments.
Ramping up North Sea production forms the backbone of the government’s efforts to increase energy sources to combat a European wide shortage, caused primarily by Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
A climate computability checkpoint has been included as part of the licensing round in an effort to ensure any new projects are in step with the UK’s climate change commitments.