Anti Oil Activists Target Famous Works of Art


Christa Worthey, Writer

On Friday October 14th, two activists threw two cans of Heinz tomato soup onto Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at London’s National Gallery in protest against “Big Oil”. The two women crawled over the barrier, opened the cans and dumped the contents over the painting before super gluing their hands to the wall underneath.

One of the activists, Phoebe Plummer, then gave a heartfelt speech to the crowded room, ”What’s worth more? Art or Life? Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice? 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 the oil crisis. Fuel is unaffordable to 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.”

The painting itself luckily retained no damage due to the actions of these people. The two women were brought before Westminster’s Magistrates Court and plead not guilty to their charges of criminal damages.

Since then two other incidents have occurred by the same group. On October the 23rd, two German activists threw mashed potatoes on a Claud Monet painting. The activists dumped a tub of the potatoes onto one of Monet’s hay bale paintings and then glued their hands to the wall beneath, similar in style to the two women in London. A day later two activists wearing “Just Stop Oil” t-shirts smashed a chocolate cake into the face of a wax figure of King Charles III.

Because these protests have drawn so much attention in the public eye, these types of public displays continued through the month of November, and even escalated into blocking bridges and roadways.