Just Stop Oil protestors throw soup over Van Gogh's Sunflowers in the National Gallery

14 October 2022, 11:39 | Updated: 19 October 2022, 09:27

Protesters throw soup on famous Van Gogh painting

By Kit Heren

Climate change activists have hurled tomato soup at a priceless Van Gogh painting in London, and glued themselves to the wall.

After throwing two tins of soup, protestor Phoebe Plummer, 21, screamed: "What is worth more, art or life?"

"Is it worth more than food? 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 oil crisis."

Just Stop Oil protestors
Just Stop Oil protestors. Picture: Twitter/Just Stop Oil

Anna Holland, another activist, said: "UK families will be forced to choose between heating or eating this winter, as fossil fuel companies reap record profits. 

"But the cost of oil and gas isn't limited to our bills. Somalia is now facing an apocalyptic famine, caused by drought and fuelled by the climate crisis."

"Millions are being forced to move and tens of thousands face starvation. This is the future we choose for ourselves if we push for new oil and gas."

Read more: Putin deploys 11 nuclear bombers just 20 miles from Nato border as Ukraine tensions rise

The $84.2 million painting in the National Gallery has a glass covering, and the painting is unharmed, the gallery said.

Just Stop Oil protestors
Just Stop Oil protestors. Picture: Twitter

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A spokesperson for the National Gallery said: "At just after 11am this morning two people entered Room 43 of the National Gallery. The pair appeared to glue themselves to the wall adjacent to Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' (1888).

"They also threw a red substance - what appears to be tomato soup - over the painting. The room was cleared of visitors and police were called. Officers are now on the scene.

"There is some minor damage to the frame but the painting is unharmed."

Both activists have since been arrested by police, and are in the process of being unglued.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: "Officers were rapidly on scene at the National Gallery this morning after two Just Stop Oil protesters threw a substance over a painting and then glued themselves to a wall. 

"Both have been arrested for criminal damage & aggravated trespass. Officers are now de-bonding them."

Read more: Police finally take 'rapid' action after 13 days of eco protests disrupting London’s roads

The latest incident comes after several days of disruptive protests by Just Stop Oil activists in London, including gluing themselves to the road.

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