Eco-zealots who glued themselves to the frame of Vincent Van Gogh’s Peach Trees In Blossom painting yesterday are repeat offenders who have taken part in a series of other protests.
John Lennon lookalike Louis McKechnie is best known for strapping himself to a goalpost during a football match between Everton and Newcastle back in March.
The 21-year-old stormed the pitch half way through the Premier League clash and zip-tied himself to the woodwork wearing a bright orange t-shirt saying: ‘Just stop oil.’
McKechnie halted play for seven minutes before the stadium’s staff prised him free with a huge pair of bolt cutters and hauled him off the pitch where he was arrested.
He has also been accused of smearing red paint on the Queen Victoria memorial as part of an Animal Rebellion protest and blocked access to oil terminals in Essex.
He was joined at Just Stop Oil’s latest stunt at the Courtauld Gallery in London on Thursday by psychology student Emily Brocklebank.
She too has been spotted at previous eco demonstrations, including at the group’s sit-down action at Kingsbury Oil Terminal, as well as at an Insulate Britain protest on the M25 in Hertfordshire last year.
The Met Police confirmed two people were arrested for criminal damage after yesterday’s incident at Somerset House and that the pair remained in custody.
Just Stop Oil protestors have risked ten years in prison after they glued themselves to the frame of Vincent Van Gogh’s Peach Trees In Blossom painting in the group’s latest stunt
Louis McKechnie, who was named as one of the demonstrators, is an eco-zealot who strapped himself to a goalpost during the Everton versus Newcastle football match back in March
Fellow protestor Emily Brocklebank (middle) has also been spotted at previous eco demonstrations, including at the group’s sit-down action at Kingsbury Oil Terminal
Yesterday’s stunt came just 24 hours after protestors glued themselves to Horatio McCulloch’s My Heart Is In The Highlands 19th-century painting in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and spray-painted their logo on the walls and floor of the building.
Five people were arrested and are expected to appear at the Glasgow Sheriff’s Court.
The latest action comes amid warnings that the Provence region in southeastern France, depicted in Van Gogh’s peach tree painting, may soon be experiencing a drought after rainfall levels were 45 per cent below historic averages.
Just Stop Oil, which has previously carried out protests at oil terminals and the UK Government offices in Edinburgh, said it is calling for art institutions to join the group in ‘civil resistance’ against climate change.
McKechnie, from Weymouth in Dorset, said: ‘As a kid I used to love this painting, my dad took me to see it when we visited London. I still love this painting, but I love my friends and family more, I love nature more. I value the future survival of my generation more highly than my public reputation.
‘The scientists are saying we need to end fossil fuel licensing and the government is pouring sand in their ears. I’m not willing to be marched to my death by the fossil fuel companies and their government puppets.
‘It is immoral for cultural institutions to stand by and watch whilst our society descends into collapse. Galleries should close. Directors of art institutions should be calling on the government to stop all new oil and gas projects immediately. We are either in resistance or we are complicit.’
The mechanical engineering student was one of nine demonstrators hauled to the High Court for breaking a government injunction
McKechnie halted play for seven minutes before the stadium’s staff prised him free with a huge pair of bolt cutters and hauled him off the pitch where he was arrested
Two climate activists attached themselves to the iconic 19th-century painting at the Courtauld Gallery in London on Thursday – as they called for the government to end new oil and gas extraction
The second protestor at the gallery was Emily Brocklebank, 24, who is a psychology student from Leeds.
She added: ‘I’m taking action today because I can’t live in a bubble of normality when society is collapsing around us and people in the global south are suffering so much.
‘Billionaires are getting richer whilst nurses queue at food banks, tens of millions of people across the world are starving and half the world’s population is exposed to extreme danger from heatwaves, floods, fires and famine. Meanwhile the art establishment, the politicians and the fossil fuel companies look the other way.
‘I love art, everywhere I go I visit all the galleries. Art is so important, it captures history and a moment in time, but artists and the art establishment are failing us by focusing on the wrong things. We need everyone to focus on the government’s genocidal plans to allow fossil fuel companies to drill for more oil. This is one of the greatest injustices in history. We must resist.’
A Met Police spokesperson said: ‘At 15:32hrs on Thursday, 30 June police were called to Somerset House, WC2 after two protestors glued themselves to a picture frame.
‘Officers attended and arrested a man and a woman for criminal damage.
‘Specialist officers worked to ensure their swift and safe removal and they have been taken into custody.
‘There are no reports of any injuries.’
The stunt comes just a day after protestors glued themselves to Horatio McCulloch’s My Heart Is In The Highlands 19th-century painting in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and spray-painted their logo on the walls and floor of the building. Pictured: Hannah Torrance Bright, 20, attached to the portrait yesterday
Despite his age, McKechnie is a seasoned disruptor who has caused havoc in recent months with Insulate Britain’s protests on major UK roads.
The mechanical engineering student was one of nine demonstrators hauled to the High Court for breaking a government injunction stopping the thugs gluing themselves to carriageways including the M25 last year.
The lout was locked up for three months in HMP Thameside, but on his release after half that time he boasted how he had been ‘terrified’ but was welcomed by other lags who he claimed were ‘entertained’ by his protests.
He told LBC in January: ‘My experience of prison has emboldened me to take any future action regardless of whether prison is a consequence.’
He continued: ‘I feel that if we were able to save these 8,000 to 30,000 lives that are lost every year to fuel poverty, I’d spend the rest of my life in prison for that.’
He added: ‘I see the only way that these protests will stop is when our demands are met. When the Government acts on the climate crisis, acts on fuel poverty and stands up for its own people.’
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