Just Stop Oil considers slashing famous artworks as eco mob threatens to 'escalate' protests

30 November 2022, 10:43 | Updated: 30 November 2022, 11:34

Just Stop Oil activists threaten to slash paintings
Just Stop Oil activists threaten to slash paintings. Picture: Social media/Getty

By Stephen Rigley

Eco mob Just Stop Oil is considering slashing famous paintings as they threaten to step up their protests.

In recent weeks eco activists Just Stop Oil have thrown soup at Van Gogh's Sunflowers painting and hurled a black, oily liquid at at famous Klimt painting in Vienna.

They have also glued themselves to the frames of several masterpieces, prompting one art critic to brand them "morons"

Just Stop Oil Activists Super Glue Themselves To Van Gogh Painting
Just Stop Oil Activists Super Glue Themselves To Van Gogh Painting. Picture: Getty
Activists after hurling tomato soup over Van Gogh's sunflowers
Activists after hurling tomato soup over Van Gogh's sunflowers. Picture: Just Stop Oil

Read More: Just Stop Oil plan to 'march as slowly as possible' around vital roundabouts from tomorrow until Christmas

Read More: Rachael Venables: How I witnessed Just Stop Oil's new tactic and the chaos it caused

Alex De Koning, a spokesman for Just Stop Oil, said it was "insane" that "more people are outraged" about the activists targeting artwork than the devastating floods in Pakistan, which displaced millions of people.

The 24-year-old - who describes himself as a "climate scientist" - said the protest group may follow in the footsteps of suffragettes who "violently slashed paintings in order to get their messages across".

In 1914, Mary Richardson attacked Diego Velazquez's painting The Rokeby Venus with a meat cleaver in a protest against the arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Mr De Koning said targeting famous art had "marked an escalation" in Just Stop Oil's action and warned it will "continue to escalate unless the government meets our demand" to stop future gas and oil projects.

He told Sky News: "If things need to escalate then we're going to take inspiration from past successful movements and we're going to do everything we can.

"If that's unfortunately what it needs to come to, then that's unfortunately what it needs to come to.

"We're fighting for our lives, why would we do any less?"

Asked directly whether future protests could involve slashing artwork, the spokesman replied: "It could potentially come to that at one point in the future, yeah."

Two Just Stop Oil activists, Hannah Hunt and Eden Lazarus, are due to face trial on Tuesday accused of causing criminal damage to John Constable's The Hay Wain.

Last week, a Just Stop Oil protester was jailed for gluing himself to the frame of a Van Gogh painting in a London gallery. A judge said the 18th-century frame had been "permanently damaged" by the stunt.

Mr De Koning said Just Stop Oil activists were "not going to be intimidated by potential prison time".

"At least in prison you get three meals a day and shelter and water," he said.

"In 20 years' time, who knows if that's still the case for millions of people."

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