Two climate protesters from the ‘Just Stop Oil’ group threw tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s 1888 painting ‘Sunflowers’ at the National Gallery in London on Friday. They pleaded not guilty to criminal damage charges. Photo provided by Just Stop Oil/EPA-EFE
Oct. 15 (BP) — Two climate activists who threw soup on a Vincent Van Gogh painting to protest climate change pleaded not guilty in London Saturday to charges of criminal damage to the artwork’s frame.
Anna Holland, 20, and Phoebe Plummer, 21, both with the group Just Stop Oil, threw soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting as part of a protest against climate change.
The pair made an appearance at Westminster Magistrate’s Court on Saturday, the Guardian reported.
Prosecutor Ola Oyedepo said the two threw an “orange substance” knowing there was a “protective case” over the actual painting, and that although the artwork itself was not harmed, the pair succeeded in causing damage to the frame, according to the Irish Independent.
Holland and Plummer were both released on bail on the condition that they do not enter galleries or museums.
Before throwing soup on the painting the two said Friday that “our heritage is being destroyed by our government’s failure to act on the climate and cost of living crisis.”
The show of opposition followed a decision from Prime Minister Liz Truss to open the North Sea up to oil and gas drillers and to reconsider a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking.
The Truss government argued the decisions were necessary in light of the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“The 100 proposed oil and gas licenses will destroy all of our culture, along with human civilization as we know it,” the climate advocates said from their Twitter account. “Why are we protecting these paintings when we are not protecting the millions of lives that will be lost due to climate and societal collapse?”
The two activists’ trial is set for Dec. 13.