Two young supporters of Just Stop Oil have glued onto the frame of a Constable painting at the National Gallery in London after covering it with a reimagined version. They are calling for the government to end new oil and gas licences and for art institutions to join them in civil resistance.
Widely regarded as John Constable’s most famous painting, the Hay Wain (1821) carries a view of the millpond at Flatford on the River Stour in Suffolk. The reimagined version carries a nightmare scene that demonstrates how oil will destroy our countryside. The river has gone, to be replaced by a road, airplanes fill the sky, pollution belches from cities on the horizon, trees are scorched by wildfires, an old car is dumped in front of the Mill and the famous Hay Wain cart carries an old washing machine.
Hannah Hunt, 23 a psychology student from Brighton said:
“I’m here because our government plans to licence 40 new UK oil and gas projects in the next few years. This makes them complicit in pushing the world towards an unlivable climate and in the death of billions of people in the coming decades.
“You can forget our ‘green and pleasant land’ when further oil extraction will lead to widespread crop failures which means we will be fighting for food. Ultimately, new fossil fuels are a death project by our government. So yes there is glue on the frame of this painting but there is blood on the hands of our government.
“The disruption will end when the UK government makes a meaningful statement that it will end new oil and gas licenses.”
Eben Lazarus, 22, a music student from Brighton said:
“I support Just Stop Oil, demanding an end to all new oil and gas in the UK immediately. I want to work in the arts, not disrupt them, but the situation we’re in, means we must do everything non-violently possible to prevent the total collapse of our ordered society.
“I have a number of younger siblings, the youngest are just ten and twelve, and I refuse to stand and watch them being condemned to a future of suffering, while they have no voice. Our government is failing in its fundamental duty to protect us.
“We have covered the Hay Wain with a reimagined version that illustrates the impact of our addiction to fossil fuels on our countryside. The painting is an important part of our heritage, but it is not more important than the 3.5 billion men, women and children already in danger because of the climate crisis.”
Last week supporters of Just Stop Oil caused disruption in Glasgow, Manchester and London by gluing onto the frames of famous paintings including Van Gogh’s Peach Trees in Blossom, Tomson’s Aeolian Harp (1809) by J.M.W. Turner and ‘My Heart’s in the Highlands’ (1860) by Horatio McCulloch.
Paul Bell 21, a physics graduate from Birmingham and Edred Whittingham, 24, a Student at Exeter University have only just been released from police custody after their action at the Manchester Art Gallery on Friday. They were released on unconditional bail to appear in court on 5th October,
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High quality photos and video footage available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Dgcuv5vJjzfdSrdpX6HJEaayoidc08xy