London: Climate protesters stick to paintings at the National Gallery

Just Stop Oil supporters taped to a painting

The Metropolitan Police were called to the National Gallery after Eben Lazarus and Hannah Hunt taped themselves to a frame (Image: PA)

Two climate change protesters taped themselves to the frame of a 19th-century masterpiece London’s National Gallery today.

Music student Eben Lazarus, 22, and psychology student Hannah Hunt, 23, both from Brighton, latched onto John Constable’s painting The Hay Wain in front of a crowd of shocked visitors.

Wearing white T-shirts with the Just Stop Oil (JSO) logo, they scaled a rope barrier and placed their own image of an “apocalyptic vision” of what the landscape would be like in the future.

Divided into three large sheets of paper, it showed an old car being dumped in front of the mill and the hay cart carrying an old washing machine.

Their protest forced the evacuation of art tourists and a class of 11-year-olds on a school field trip from the room where the painting hangs.

A video shared by JSO, a climate activist group, shows Lazarus and Hunt kneeling on the floor, each with a hand on the frame.

“I want to work in the arts and not disturb them,” the protester told viewers.

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Protesters from climate group Just Stop Oil covered John Constable’s The Hay Wain with their own image (Image: PA)

“But the situation we find ourselves in means that we must do everything non-violently possible to prevent the collapse of civilization that we are headed for.

“I have younger siblings – the youngest just 10 and 12 – and I refuse to stand idly by while they are mute and have them condemned to a future of suffering.

“Our government is flouting its democratic mandate to protect us. art is important. It should be preserved for future generations, but if there is no food, what good is art.

“If there is no water, what good is art. When billions of people suffer and suffer, what good is art.”

Their action comes a day after JSO invaded the Formula One circuit at Silverstone during the opening round of the British Grand Prix.

Protesters from climate group Just Stop Oil covered John Constable's

The painting is not believed to have been damaged (Image: PA)

Five men between the ages of 21 and 46 and two women between the ages of 20 and 44 were arrested.

Last week, supporters of the group also caused a stir in Glasgow, Manchester and London by pasting the frames of famous paintings, including Van Gogh’s Peach Trees in Blossom.

In a statement to the National Gallery protest, Hunt later said the disruption will end when the government makes a “meaningful statement” that it will end new oil and gas licenses.

She added: “I’m here because our government plans to license 40 new UK oil and gas projects over the next few years.

“That makes them complicit in pushing the world into an uninhabitable climate and the deaths of billions of people in the decades to come.

“You can forget our ‘green and pleasant country’ when continued oil production will result in widespread crop failures, meaning we will struggle for food.

“Ultimately, new fossil fuels are a death project from our government.

“So yes, there is glue on the frame of this painting, but there is blood on the hands of our government.”

A spokesman for the gallery confirmed that the space was closed to the public.

The Metropolitan Police were called to the scene by staff at 2.25pm.

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Justin Scacco

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