Art/Design, Sustainability

Climate Activists are gluing themselves to Art as act of protest

Climate change is more than a sticky situation.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Jul 30, 2022

In the past couple of months, a group of activists called Just Stop Oil have been making headlines. The climate justice activist group have been exacting unusual protest tactics such as blocking entrances to oil facilities, tying themselves to goalposts, and storming the British Grand Prix.


And it doesn’t end there. Recently, the activists from Just Stop Oil have been gluing themselves to famous and well-visited artworks. In the past couple of weeks, separate activists from the groups glued themselves to the frame of a Vincent Van Gogh painting at the Courtauld, a Horatio McCulloch artwork in Glasgow, a Turner painting in Manchester, and a Constable painting in the National Gallery.


There is no denying that such initiatives gain attention and keep the conversation on climate change going, but why focus on art?


Although many people are worried about the potential harm that climate protesters could do to these extremely important and valuable paintings, their protests and actions pale in comparison to the unavoidable death and destruction that will ensue on Earth if we do nothing about climate change.


In the About Us section of their website, Just Stop Oil activists share: “Climate collapse will mean the end of workers’ rights, women’s rights, all human rights. It is already the greatest injustice visited on the global south in human history. If you are not in resistance you are appeasing evil. If you continue to stand by you are betraying 200 years of struggle and the sacrifice of those that came before us. It is time to put everything aside, we are going into resistance with or without you. Are you bystander or are you going to rise up?”


The activists glued themselves to artwork to achieve one of their central demands: No New Oil. According to a statement from the organization, the move aimed “to call for the government to end new oil and gas and for art institutions to join them in civil resistance.” The group was asking for the discontinuation of new licenses and consents for the production and development of fossil fuels in the UK. This requirement is not difficult to accomplish; all that is required is for the government to make a statement and hold itself accountable. However, it is urgently required because our future is quickly becoming unlivable.


Just Stop Oil’s protesters are not the only activists using art to bring light and urge for immediate action when it comes to climate change. In fact, earlier in the year a woman smeared cake on Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris in a cry for help about governments destroying the Earth.


In related reading, here’s 5 tips for dealing with climate anxiety.


Photo via James Manning for AP