Per a report from the Guardian, the incident took place at the National Gallery and saw an entry from van Gogh’s Sunflowers series being targeted with cans of tomato soup. Footage of the act of protest, seen above, shows two activists approaching the piece before throwing the soup, at which point others in the room can be heard reacting with shock.
“What is worth more, art or life?” one activist then tells the crowd. “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 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. Millions of people are dying in monsoons, wildfires, and severe drought. We cannot afford new oil and gas. It is going to take everything we know and love.”
Just Stop Oil, per its official website, is “a coalition of groups working together to ensure the government commits to halting new fossil fuel licensing and production.” On Friday, the activists also glued themselves to the wall of the gallery space.
In a statement shared Friday morning, a National Gallery rep announced that two people had been arrested in connection with the incident. As for any impact on the painting, the rep confirmed there was only “minor damage to the frame.” The painting itself was not harmed.