Readers on the protest by Just Stop Oil activists who threw soup at a Van Gogh painting in the National Gallery
I am fully supportive of the Just Stop Oil campaign, and acknowledge the need for rousing tactics to counteract a business-as-usual mentality. However, the attack on Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting was misguided (Just Stop Oil activists throw soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, 14 October).
Van Gogh cared deeply for nature, and for humanity; he was a missionary before he became a painter. He was poor, he lived simply, and his passion was to reveal the extraordinary beauty of nature to those who could not see it. For his magnificent gift to humanity to become a target for environmentalists is a violation of all that the painting upholds.
Over the ages, art, creativity and imagination have kept alive exactly that which Just Stop Oil is fighting for. The legacy of artists such as Van Gogh should be cared for by us with gratitude; to deface such works discredits the protesters’ own calls for a better, more selfless vision of humanity.
Jennifer Leach
Reading, Berkshire
The answer to the question posed by the Just Stop Oil activist Phoebe Plummer, “What is worth more, art or life?” is life, and the habitability of our planet. I wonder how Van Gogh would have responded to the same question. The life-affirming spirit in his art suggests that he would say that life, whether individual life or life in general, is worth more than a particular artefact.
Philip Courtenay
Basingstoke, Hampshire
George Monbiot (Do we really care more about Van Gogh’s sunflowers than real ones?, 19 October) is right to highlight the climate protester’s dilemma: protests will be ignored unless they cross a line that many find unacceptable, especially when it comes to using well-loved masterpieces in the National Gallery to make the point. Perhaps the gallery could solve this problem by erecting a banner saying “Just Stop Oil” across its Trafalgar Square front, to show which side it’s on.
Lance Fennell
Milton Keynes
George Monbiot asks: “What are the democratic means of contesting the government’s decision to award more than 100 new licences to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea?”
What would he do if half of the motorways in the UK were blocked by demonstrators who wanted us to shut down all our nuclear power stations, and the other half were blocked by demonstrators demanding that nuclear power stations should supply all of our electricity?
Robert Edwards
Hornchurch, London
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