Two climate activists glued themselves to a 200-year-old masterpiece at London’s National Gallery on Monday, the latest in a string of disruptive protests by British environmentalist group Just Stop Oil.
The pair covered John Constable’s famous landscape painting “The Hay Wain” with a modified version of the image before sticking their hands to its frame.
The demonstration comes just a day after five Just Stop Oil activists disrupted Formula 1’s British Grand Prix by sitting on the Silverstone racetrack.
Last week also saw members of the group gluing themselves to the frames of paintings in London, Glasgow and Manchester, including Vincent van Gogh’s famous “Peach Trees in Blossom.”
Completed in 1821, “The Hay Wain” is among Britain’s best-known artworks. Depicting the Stour river, which divides the English counties of Suffolk and Essex, it is considered one of Constable’s quintessential paintings.
Just Stop Oil, which is calling for the UK government to block licenses for future oil and gas extraction, has since identified the demonstrators as students Hannah Hunt and Eben Lazarus. London’s Metropolitan Police said.
Listen to why Eben took this action today.
Just Stop Oil has been targeting art, as well as sport as it is part of our collective culture.
We love our history and culture too much to just allow it all to be destroyed.
— JustStopOil (@JustStop_Oil) July 4, 2022
The National Gallery said the painting had been removed from view following the incident and has since been examined by conservators.
“‘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,” the gallery said in a statement, adding that the painting will be back on display from Tuesday morning.