Three climate activists appeared in a London court on Saturday on charges of criminal damage after protests including throwing soup at Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ painting at the National Gallery.
Two women, aged 20 and 21, were charged in connection with the soup-throwing protest on Friday, while a third was charged with paint sprayed on a rotating sign at Metropolitan Police headquarters in central London . The three women pleaded not guilty to criminal damage in Westminster Magistrates’ Court in two brief hearings on Saturday.
Just Stop Oil said activists threw two cans of tomato soup at Van Gogh’s oil painting, one of the Dutch artist’s most iconic works. The two demonstrators also glued themselves to the wall of the gallery.
Prosecutor Ola Oyedepo said the couple did not damage the oil painting, which was covered in a protective glass case, but the frame was damaged.
The painting, one of several versions of “Sunflowers” that Van Gogh painted in the late 1880s, was cleaned and returned to its place in the National Gallery on Friday afternoon.
District Judge Tan Irkam released the women on bail on the condition that they not be covered in paint or adhesive substances in a public place.
Police said they made 28 arrests in connection with Friday’s protests and another 25 were released on bail pending further investigation.
Just Stop Oil has drawn attention and criticism for targeting artworks in museums. In July, campaigners stuck to the frame of an early copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and John Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’ at the National Gallery.
Activists also blocked bridges and intersections across London during two weeks of protests. Protesters from the climate change protest groups Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil, who want the UK government to stop new oil and gas projects, staged a series of demonstrations in London on Friday. .