Two environmental protesters in Britain glued themselves to the frame of a Vincent van Gogh painting on display at a London art gallery on Thursday.
In the stunt, the latest direct action demonstration by climate protection activists, the duo from the group Just Stop Oil taped their fingers to the Dutch champion’s ‘Peach Trees in Blossom’.
Painted in 1889, the oil-on-canvas work is part of a Van Gogh collection hanging in the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House in the British capital.
It comes the day after five members of the group seeking to halt all new UK fossil fuel projects were arrested over a similarly disruptive protest at a Glasgow art museum.
“We don’t want to do that,” Louis McKechnie, one of the two who claimed to have aligned himself with the work of Van Gogh, told viewers at the London gallery, according to footage shared by Just Stop Oil.
“We’re stuck here on this painting – this beautiful painting – because we fear for our future,” added the 21-year-old, noting that he and his comrade-in-arms were being arrested.
“If there was another way to get the wherewithal, we would have done it — we’ve tried everything else.”
The Courtauld confirmed the incident took place in the afternoon and ordered the gallery where the painting hangs for the remainder of Thursday to be closed.
“We expect the Courtauld Gallery to reopen to the public as usual tomorrow,” she added in a statement.
McKechnie, a former engineering student who has been arrested 20 times and spent six weeks in prison, is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable faces of British climate activists.
In March, he risked the wrath of football fans when he tied himself to a goal post in the middle of a game between Newcastle and Everton.
He told AFP earlier this month that he was ready to become “public enemy number one” because of his direct actions.
In video from Thursday’s gallery, McKechnie accused the UK government of “pushing through over 40 new fossil fuel projects” that are “like signing our death warrants”.
“My generation has no choice but to take these kinds of actions,” he added.
On Wednesday, the UK’s independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) warned that the UK government is not making adequate progress towards its new net-zero strategy’s targets of being carbon neutral by 2050.
This prompted campaign group Greenpeace UK, business groups and opposition politicians to urge ministers to speed up the implementation of climate change policies.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government recently reviewed its energy strategy, including deployment of nuclear, wind and solar power.
But it is also considering fossil fuel projects in the North Sea as part of attempts to secure domestic supplies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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