Just Stop Oil supporters throw soup over Van Gogh's sunflowers in demand to stop new oil and gas projects

Just Stop Oil supporters throw soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers to demand no new oil and gas.

Just Stop Oil supporters throw soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers to demand no new oil and gas.

Two supporters of Just Stop Oil have thrown soup over Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, as actions in the capital roll into the 14th day. They are demanding that the UK government halts all new oil and gas projects. [1]

The two women walked into the room in the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, in which the ‘Sunflowers’ is hung and at 11am threw the contents of two tins of Heinz Tomato soup over the painting which has an estimated value of $84.2 million. [2]

Today’s action comes after two weeks of continued civil resistance by supporters of Just Stop Oil. The disruption is in response to the government’s inaction on both the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis. 

Phoebe Plummer, 21, from London  said:

“Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice?

“The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels—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. We can’t afford new oil and gas, it’s going to take everything. We will look back and mourn all we have lost unless we act immediately.”

Anna Holland, 20, from Newcastle 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.” 

The actions this month are timed to coincide with the planned launch of a new round of oil and gas licensing in which over 100 new licences for oil and gas projects are likely to be awarded and an energy price hike on October 1st, which means almost 8 million households are expected to fall into fuel poverty by April 1st 2023. [3] [4]

Outside of the UK, the impacts of climate change are being felt by millions in Somalia, which is facing its worst drought in 40 years. The people of Somalia are now experiencing a fifth consecutive season without adequate rainfall, causing crop failure and famine. It’s expected that 6.7 million people will face acute food insecurity until 2023. [5]

This is not a one day event, this is an act of resistance against a criminal government and their genocidal death project. Our supporters will be returning – today, tomorrow and the next day – and the next day after that – and every day until our demand is met: no new oil and gas in the UK.

We will not be intimidated by changes to the law, we will not be stopped by private injunctions sought to silence peaceful people. Our supporters understand that these are irrelevant when set against mass starvation, slaughter, the loss of our rights, freedoms and communities.

Stand with our supporters in prison, with the 1700 murdered across the global, for protecting our futures. We will not die silently, it will be ordinary people, like you, your friends, colleagues and neighbours who do what our government cannot. It will take all of us. [6]


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Notes to Editors

[1] Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the government immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. Just Stop Oil is a member of the A22 Network of civil resistance projects. Climate Emergency Fund is Just Stop Oil’s primary funder for recruitment, training, and capacity building.

[2] https://artincontext.org/most-expensive-van-gogh-painting/

[3]  https://www.ft.com/content/8146804f-770e-42ee-8435-72469f92b4fd

[4] https://www.endfuelpoverty.org.uk/news/

[5] https://www.itv.com/news/2022-10-11/world-needs-to-act-now-over-hunger-crisis-in-somalia-to-avert-disaster

[6] There are now 5 Just Stop Oil supporters in prison on remand or serving sentences for taking action to demand that the government halts new oil and gas licences. They are Simon Milner-Edwards, Margaret Reid, Michelle Charlesworth, Barry Mitchell and Joshua Smith. In addition, Scott Breen is in prison for taking action against the Southampton to Heathrow pipeline and Elliott Cuciurean is in prison for taking action against HS2.