By Shanti Escalante-De Mattei
Environmental activists for Just Stop Oil glued themselves to Giampietrino’s The Last Supper (c. 1520) on Monday and John Constable’s The Hay Wain (1821) on Tuesday. The paintings reside at the Royal Academy of Arts and the National Gallery in London, respectively.
The actions follow similar ones last week in which activists in the United Kingdom attached themselves to Van Gogh’s Peach Trees in Blossom (1889), Horatio McCulloch’s My Heart’s in the Highlands (1860), and J.M.W. Turner’s Thomson’s Aeolian Harp (1809).
While the activists have typically attached themselves only to the frames of the paintings, they took a different approach with The Hay Wain, Constable’s famous landscape depicting the English countryside. The activists covered the painting with a reimagined scene of a countryside full of dying trees, planes, and an encroaching city. As a result, there was some very minor damage to the painting.
“The Hay Wain suffered minor damage to its frame and there was also some disruption to the surface of the varnish on the painting, both of which have now been successfully dealt with,” a spokesperson for the National Gallery said in an interview with The Art Newspaper.
The painting has since been rehung.
Hannah Hunt, a 23-year-old psychology student from Brighton said in a statement released by Just Stop Oil, “I’m here because our government plans to license 40 new UK oil and gas projects in the next few years. This makes them complicit in pushing the world towards an unlivable climate and in the death of billions of people in the coming decades.”
She added that the actions in cultural institutions will end only when the “UK government makes a meaningful statement that it will end new oil and gas licenses.”
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