“Women didn’t get the vote by voting; it’s time for deeds not words”- Just Stop Oil supporters smash suffragette painting

Two young Just Stop Oil supporters have smashed the glass cover of a painting once famously slashed by a suffragette. They are demanding the government immediately halt all new oil and gas projects in the UK.

At around 10:45 am Hanan, 22, and Harrison, 20, used safety hammers to smash the glass covering the Rokeby Venus. They then addressed the gallery by saying: “Women did not get the vote by voting; it is time for deeds not words. It is time to Just Stop Oil.” They added: “Politics is failing us. It failed women in 1914 and it is failing us now. New oil and gas will kill millions. If we love art, if we love life, if we love our families we must Just Stop Oil.”

The Rokeby Venus was famously slashed in the National Gallery by the suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914. Richardson left seven slashes on the painting, causing particular damage to the area between the figure’s shoulders, however, all were successfully repaired. Richardson’s action was in resistance to the UK government’s imprisonment of Emmeline Pankhurst at the time. She explained her actions after the incident- “I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history.”

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson commented:

“Emmeline Pankhurst once said: ‘The argument of the broken window pane is the most valuable argument in modern politics’. Disappointingly little has changed since 1914. From governments destroying the most beautiful character in history, to governments destroying our home, our families and our institutions in order to enrich criminal oil barons and corporations. The only thing that has ever stood in their way is ordinary people, taking to the streets to demand change. We invite everyone to join us.”

One of those taking action today, Hanan Ameur, 22 a student from London, said:

“Over 100 years ago, the suffragette Mary Richardson attacked the Rokeby venus portrait for the unjust imprisonment of Emmeline Pankhurst. Today I have used similar methods in the fight for climate justice.”

“As a kid I saw myself growing up to be an astronaut or a singer. I saw a future, however ridiculous it was. Now, those day-dreams have ended. The future we are heading for doesn’t allow space for them anymore.”

“It’s always been down to ordinary people to tell their governments when they’ve crossed a line. Civil resistance worked for the suffragettes and it will work for us.”

Also taking action today is Harrison Donnelly, 20, a student from Nottingham. He said:

“Emmeline Pankhurst said: you have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else.”

“The suffragettes are proof these methods work to achieve social change. That is why we have taken this action today. New oil will destroy everything we love. I do not want to be here, but I cannot continue to see this government fail all of us.”

On Friday three people were imprisoned for 28 days, without trial, for marching slowly in the road. Many others have been bailed out of London and have been put under house arrest on ankle tag. Today, many more will march to the point of arrest and potential imprisonment. 

We are not prepared to watch silently while this government, bought by the criminals in the oil industry, are planning for millions to die, whilst the judiciary imprisons those that stand against this injustice. We will march in ever greater numbers and we will keep marching until this government stops all new oil and gas projects in the UK.

We are inviting everyone to join Just Stop Oil slow marching on the streets of London. Meet 12pm Trafalgar Square every day from November 20th.


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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.

Just Stop Oil ‘Blue Lights’ policy: our policy is, and has always been, to move out of the way for emergency vehicles with siren sounding and ‘blue lights’ on.