Fossil-fuel protestors have been arrested for splashing a tin of Heinz tomato soup across Vincent van Gogh’s iconic “Sunflowers” painting inside the National Gallery in London.
Anna Holland, 20, and Phoebe Plummer, 21, carried out the act of vandalism inside the museum on Friday morning before gluing themselves to the wall beneath the 1889 artwork valued at $85 million.
“Specialist officers have un-glued them [the women] and they have been taken into custody to a central London police station,” a spokeswoman from Scotland Yard told local media, saying the duo was arrested for criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
“There is some minor damage to the frame [of the artwork], but the painting is unharmed.”
Holland and Plummer are members of Just Stop Oil — a climate campaign group “working together to ensure that the government commits to ending all new licenses and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK,” according to its website.
Following her arrest, Plummer appeared unapologetic, telling local media: “Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice?”
She said the soup was chosen as the damaging liquid of choice because Brits won’t even be able to heat up food this winter as the country faces a cost of living crisis.
“The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels,” she proclaimed. “Everyday life has become unaffordable for 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,” Plummer added.
Holland shared similar concerns, stating: “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,” she further proclaimed. “Somalia is now facing an apocalyptic famine, caused by drought and fueled 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.”
Just Stop Oil say they are engaging in an “act of resistance” against a criminal government and “will not stop” until new oil and gas projects are halted.
It is the latest in a series of high-profile actions by climate activists targeting major works of art around the world.
Cake has previously been smeared across Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” in Paris, while other activists have glued their hands to masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli and Umberto Boccioni.
Two Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia last weekend after gluing themselves to the 1951 Pablo Picasso painting “Massacre in Korea.”