National Gallery. Police called as UK anti-oil activists target Constable (2022)

Two protesters from the Just Stop Oil group on Monday covered a famous British pastoral painting with a poster of an apocalyptic future, then glued themselves to its frame.

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Protesters from Just Stop Oil glue themselves to The Hay Wain by John Constable at the National Gallery and post an altered picture over the painting. Just Stop Oil at the National Gallery, London, UK - 04 Jul 2022. Photo: Profimedia

The couple targeted John Constable’s 1821 painting “The Hay Wain” at the National Gallery in London as part of a countrywide protest against oil and gas projects.

They first taped over the canvas with a “reimagined version” of the bucolic scene, showing the landscape covered in pollution, dotted with wildfires and overflown by aircraft.

Just Stop Oil aims to end UK government involvement in oil and gas and has mounted a series of high-profile protests.

Last week, protestors glued themselves to works by J.M.W. Turner, Vincent van Gogh, and Horatio McCulloch in London, Glasgow and Manchester to warn against “a future of suffering”.

On Sunday, the group invaded the circuit at Silverstone during a break in the British Grand Prix.

One of the protesters, Eben Lazarus, 22, told more than 50 onlookers at the London gallery: “We have covered ‘The Hay Wain’ with a reimagined version that illustrates the expected impact of our addiction to fossil fuels on our countryside.”

The painting “is an important part of our cultural history, our heritage. But it is not more important than the 3.5 billion people already in danger because of the climate crisis”, he added.

The second protester, Hannah Hunt, 23, condemned the government for giving the green light to new oil and gas projects this year.

National Gallery
Protesters from Just Stop Oil glue themselves to The Hay Wain by John Constable at the National Gallery and post an altered picture over the painting. Photo: Profimedia

“The disruption will end as soon as the UK government makes a meaningful statement that it will end new oil and gas licences,” she added.

Last week, the independent Climate Change Committee warned the British government that it did not have adequate policies in place to meet emission reduction targets to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Onlookers cheered before the museum security intervened and cleared the room. Police were then called to the scene, the Metropolitan Police said. AFP

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