Activists Deface Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers In Protests Over Oil

It doesn't seem to have won over the internet, though.
Just Stop Oil protesters defacing Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers
Just Stop Oil protesters defacing Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers
Just Stop Oil/Twitter

Two Just Stop Oil protesters threw cans of tomato soup over Vincent Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers painting on Friday.

The activists then glued themselves to the wall just next to the iconic image, which is on display in London’s National Gallery, and began to shout: “What is worth more, art or life?”

Dismayed gasps from members of the public can be heard throughout the clips of the incident being shared on social media, with one person shouting uncertainly for security.

Facing the room, the activists also said: “Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?”

The campaign’s Twitter account also pointed out that the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis are driven by oil and gas.

“Thanks to skyrocketing gas prices, millions of British families won’t be able to afford to heat a can of soup this winter. Only civil resistance can get us out of this crisis – it’s time to step up and stand up for what’s right.”

Just Stop Oil has been putting on more protests recently, ever since prime minister Liz Truss lifted the ban on fracking last month.

The UK’s fossil fuel supply is running low due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s attempts to wean itself off Moscow’s exports (mainly oil and natural gas). Vladimir Putin has also been using Russia’s resources as leverage, in a bid to deter Europe from assisting Ukraine in the war.

Truss’s decision to lift fracking was controversial, especially as many wanted her to prioritise greener sources such as wind power, solar panels or nuclear energy. An annual survey commissioned by the government’s energy department in autumn 2021 also found that only 17% of the UK public supported fracking.

Still, it seems Just Stop Oil’s latest demonstration has not quite read the room (even if the artwork is protected by glass).

The i newspaper’s Emily Baker called the demonstration “fucking stupid”.

She tweeted: “This painting - and Van Gogh, a painter who celebrated and portrayed the natural world in a way very few had done before - means so much to so many people, a lot of whom will be sympathetic to Just Stop Oil’s cause.”

From jokes and memes, to sarcasm and serious takedowns, it seems the rest of the internet wasn’t too happy about this protest either.


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