Just Stop Oil protesters glue themselves to The Last Supper at London’s Royal Academy
Climate protesters have struck at a major art gallery for the fifth time in a week, gluing themselves to the frame of the copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper on Tuesday.
Five Just Stop Oil supporters attached themselves to the frame while the words “No New Oil” were spray-painted in white paint onto the red plinth under the picture at the Royal Academy, in central London. Security guards quickly cleared the largely empty gallery of visitors.
One of the protesters called the Government a “Judas” to future generations and said Just Stop Oil had brought its campaign to this “magnificent, beautiful painting” because the future “is bleaker than ever”.
The painting represents Jesus announcing that one of his 12 apostles will betray him during the last time he dined with them before he was crucified.
The campaigners are urging the Government to halt new oil and gas licences in the UK and for the directors, employees and members of art institutions to join their protests.
During Tuesday’s protest, one of the activists said: “The truth is any new oil expansion is a death sentence, a death sentence for the future.
“It is a death sentence for younger generations. It is a death sentence for the nature that has directly inspired art for hundreds of thousands of years.”
He suggested the Government is “betraying the younger generations and those in the global south who are facing the worst impacts” of climate change.
Just Stop Oil later named some of the protesters as Lucy Porter, 47, a former primary teacher from Leeds, Jessica Agar, a 21-year-old art student from Hereford, and Tristan Strange, a 40-year-old community organiser from Swindon.
In a statement, Ms Porter said: “My job as a teacher was to encourage my students to take inspiration from the great works of art housed by institutions like the Royal Academy.
“How can our Government expect young people to respect culture when they are encouraging new oil and gas projects that will be our children’s death sentence?”
Ms Agar said: “As an art student, I deeply respect and value the artworks themselves, but I also value the power that art has to change the world. It’s that power I speak to today.
“Artists and galleries are failing to meaningfully take action against the climate emergency. No painting is worth more than my six-month old nephew’s life. No sculpture can feed babies starving because extreme heat killed food crops.”
Mr Strange said: “Time is running out to change course or prepare for disaster, and the message is not reaching the public or our politicians. We must stop new oil and gas immediately.
“Da Vinci said that art is the queen of all sciences, communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world. The science still isn’t being heard.”
Leonardo da Vinci created The Last Supper between 1492 and 1497-48, and the Royal Academy’s full-size copy was painted by one or more of his pupils.
Arrests were also made after two activists glued themselves to the frame of John Constable’s The Hay Wain at the National Gallery on Monday and covered the artwork with a reimagined scene of the destruction that climate change could cause to the landscape.