Vancouver climate protesters throw maple syrup on painting

The demonstration follows the lead of recent demonstrations with soup and mashed potatoes at museums in the UK and Germany

Ethan Freedman
Climate Reporter, New York
Monday 14 November 2022 19:03 GMT
Poorer countries press for climate aid as COP27 enters 2nd week

Activists in Vancouver, Canada threw maple syrup at a museum painting on Saturday to draw attention to the climate crisis and protest a pipeline.

Two people with the activist group Stop Fracking Around tossed the syrup on Stumps and Sky, a painting by Canadian artist Emily Carr, which is on display at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

The demonstration follows similar actions around the world where climate protesters have thrown food at museum paintings, most notably the soup thrown at a Van Gogh painting in London.

"We are in a climate emergency,” Erin Fletcher, one of the protesters, said in a press release. “We are taking this action following Remembrance Day to remind ourselves of the countless deaths that took place, and will continue to take place, due to the greed, corruption and incompetence of our leaders.”

The museum said in a statement that it does not expect the painting to suffer permanent damage.

"The Vancouver Art Gallery condemns acts of vandalism towards the works of cultural significance in our care, or in any museum,” the museum’s director, Anthony Kiendl said in the statement.

“We do support the free expression of ideas, but not at the expense of suppressing the ideas and artistic expressions of others, or otherwise inhibiting people from access to those ideas,” he added.

Protesters covered a painting in maple syrup over the weekend to draw attention to the climate crisis
Protesters covered a painting in maple syrup over the weekend to draw attention to the climate crisis (Stop Fracking Around)

“I think any amount of publicity we can get as an organization is worth it because the climate crisis is the most pressing crisis of our time,” Emily Kelsall, another one of the protesters, told CBC News.

CBC News reports that no arrests were made but that police are investigating the incident. The Independent has contacted the Vancouver Police Department for comment and additional information.

In addition to bringing attention to the climate crisis, the activists were protesting the Coastal GasLink Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline currently under construction in British Columbia. The Independent has asked TC Energy, the company building the pipeline, for comment on the protest.

Climate activists have recently kicked into high gear in many countries as demonstrators target museums and other institutions to bring attention to the growing planetary crisis.

In addition to throwing soup at a Van Gogh, activists have thrown mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in Germany and demonstrated at Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring in The Netherlands.

While some climate leaders have celebrated the museum actions for bringing attention to the climate crisis, others have criticized the actions for potentially turning the public against climate protests.

Representatives from governments around the world are currently meeting at Cop27, the UN’s annual climate change conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in an attempt to further global cooperation on mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis.

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