Climate Activists Throw Tomato Soup on Famous ‘Sunflowers’ Painting

The background behind the climate activist throwing soup on a famous painting.

The Guardian

The Just Stop Oil movement has recently thrown soup at a well-known painting. Their logo is now recognized by most.

Lilly Brown

The Just Stop Oil movement has recently thrown soup at a well-known painting. Their logo is now recognized by most.

Lilly Brown, Reporter

In room 43 of London’s National gallery sits many of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings including his famous “Sunflowers.” On Friday, Oct. 14, two activists opened up cans of Heinz tomato soup and hurled their contents onto the famous “Sunflowers” painting. They then proceeded to glue their hands to the wall below the $81 million painting. 

The reason behind these actions connects to lots of protests in London over the past few months. These two were also wearing shirts with the words “Just Stop Oil.” This is a movement to pressure the government to stop all new oil and fossil fuel production. The group was founded in February of 2022 and many major protests were starting to take place. 

However, the protest that has gotten the most attention has been the soup being thrown at the Van Gogh painting.

The two activists were found to be 21-year-old Phoebe Plummer and 20-year-old Anna Holland. Plummer was the one who spoke at their protest. 

“What is worth more, art or life?” Plummer stated. 

While people were notifying security she continued with, “Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice? Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting, or the protection of our planet and people? The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of oil crisis. Fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold, hungry families. They can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup.”

The painting did not receive damage due to protective glass in front of the painting. However, there was minor damage to the frame.

The two were charged with vandalizing the painting and appeared in court on Saturday, October 15. They were joined with another Just Stop Oil activist, who spray painted the New Scotland Yard sign. They all pleaded not guilty. The judge released them on bail if they agreed to not keep paint or adhesive substances on them in public.

Another 25 arrests were made in relation to this movement. These people were bailed pending further inquiries.

“We’re using these actions to get media attention to get people talking about this now and we know civil resistance works, history has shown us this works,” Plummer states in a video on social media.

Social media, such as Twitter and Tiktok, has blown up over this situation. Mixed opinions have been shared. Some have raged. Some have called it genius. The video has received millions of views and has created one of the biggest arguments currently.

A few tweets involving this matter:

@healdsgreen: “You can care about the planet without destroying other things of value.”

@VMoon24: “It made me so angry at first but seriously…. We have prioritized materialistic [objects] over human basic needs.”

@SassZillennial: “Which do you care more, children’s lives or a painting?”

@RealRandyChavez: “Destroying things is usually not the way to get the opposing side to listen. Bad move on these kids’ part.”

The Just Stop Oil movement has gained more attention from this viral protest. Their website shows every protest and their goal to have one everyday to grab the attention of the government. 

However, are they taking protests the wrong way? Or are they geniuses attempting to use social media to gain the audience’s attention?