A spate of demonstrations has struck museums across the UK. Climate protestors glued themselves to significant artworks in the National Gallery and the Courtauld Gallery in London, as well as Manchester Art Gallery and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.
The campaigners belong to Just Stop Oil, a U.K.-based environmental group that fights against new fossil fuel licensing and production. According to The Courtauld protestors, 21-year-old Louis McKechnie and 24-year-old Emily Brocklebank, the demonstrations were supposed to encourage “art institutions to join them in civil resistance.”
This week, supporters of the group stepped over a security rope in the National Gallery and affixed their palms to the gilded frame of ‘The Hay Wain’ by John Constable (1776-1837). They covered the renowned oil painting with a dystopian poster in which the cottage is ablaze, and the trees have perished.
Last week, McKechnie and Brocklebank targeted a masterpiece by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) at the Courtauld Gallery. The campaigners evaded security and superglued their hands to the frame of ‘Peach Trees in Blossom’. The group selected the painting because the area it depicts in France may soon experience severe droughts.
These incidents in London followed similar demonstrations in Manchester and Glasgow. A few days earlier, young protestors attached themselves to the frames of landscape paintings by JMW Turner (1775-1851) in Manchester Art Gallery and by Horatio McCulloch (1805-1867) at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. Campaigners at these institutions also spray-painted the group’s name on the gallery’s walls and floors.