Extinction Rebellion activists covered in fake oil to protest National Portrait Gallery’s BP deal

Topless Extinction Rebellion activists have covered themselves in fake oil at the National Portrait Gallery in London during a protest against its sponsorship by BP.

Demonstrators from the eco-warrior group teamed up with BP or Not BP? and Culture Unstained as a black liquid was poured on them in the Ondaatje Wing at 4.15pm.

The protesters curled up in the foetal position as others coated them in the ‘oil’ in front of a BP-sponsored art display.

The unauthorised stunt capped a two-week wave of actions by the civil disobedience movement, which has led to more than 3,300 arrests in London and cities around the world, the group said.

Demonstrators from the eco-warrior group teamed up with BP or Not BP? and Culture Unstained as a black liquid was poured on them in the Ondaatje Wing at 4.15pm (pictured)

The protesters curled up in the foetal position as others coated them in the 'oil' in front of a BP-sponsored art display. The XR action called Crude Truth came at the end of the BP Portrait Award exhibition

The protesters curled up in the foetal position as others coated them in the ‘oil’ in front of a BP-sponsored art display. The XR action called Crude Truth came at the end of the BP Portrait Award exhibition

An activist chanted 'NGP, drop BP' (pictured on a poster) during the five-minute protest that saw three people lying down on a plastic sheet

An activist chanted ‘NGP, drop BP’ (pictured on a poster) during the five-minute protest that saw three people lying down on a plastic sheet

Today’s XR action called Crude Truth came at the end of the BP Portrait Award exhibition.

Activists spread a white sheet over the floor of the main hall of the gallery’s Ondaatje wing before two women and a man wearing only skin-coloured underwear adopted foetal positions on the covering. One man chanted ‘NGP, drop BP’ during the five-minute protest.

Protester Eden Rickson read a poem asking the gallery to stop accepting sponsorship money from BP.

He said: ‘We cannot be artists on a dead planet…Yet right now the National Portrait Gallery is tied to a company brutally funding the end of our world.

‘With compassion, we ask you to change. Oil means the end, but art means the beginning.’

Blythe Pepino, 30, a music artist from London, said: 'As the founder of BirthStrike I am in full support of the Extinction Rebellion action at the National Portrait Gallery'

Blythe Pepino, 30, a music artist from London, said: ‘As the founder of BirthStrike I am in full support of the Extinction Rebellion action at the National Portrait Gallery’

James Fox, who was the fake oil pourer and is a wildlife biologist, 25, from London, said: 'As an undergraduate Zoologist I studied oil spill ecotoxicology for my dissertation, with a particular focus on BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster'

James Fox, who was the fake oil pourer and is a wildlife biologist, 25, from London, said: ‘As an undergraduate Zoologist I studied oil spill ecotoxicology for my dissertation, with a particular focus on BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster’

At the end of the performance, the climate change activists (pictured on the plastic sheet) stood up and cleaned themselves

At the end of the performance, the climate change activists (pictured on the plastic sheet) stood up and cleaned themselves

Blythe Pepino, 30, a music artist from London, said: ‘As the founder of BirthStrike I am in full support of the Extinction Rebellion action at the National Portrait Gallery.

‘BirthStrike represents a growing group of young adults now too frightened to bring children into the world because of companies like BP have worked to undermine the seriousness of the crisis as well as the action needed to mitigate it for more than half a century.

‘BP is, right now, contributing to the destruction of peoples and planet and their tokenistic funding of the arts, which functions as propaganda, must be stopped. Our cultural sector has a responsibility to Tell The Truth.’

James Fox, who was the fake oil pourer and is a wildlife biologist, 25, from London, said: ‘As an undergraduate Zoologist I studied oil spill ecotoxicology for my dissertation, with a particular focus on BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster.

‘Specifically, our research group uncovered how a crude oil chemical called Phenanthrene – now found literally everywhere in the world due to fossil fuel exploration, including on vegetables – breaks down the functioning of heart cells, weakens animals and makes them succumb to parasites, even at low doses.

‘The results of oil exploration are sickening. I’m here as an activist now because no amount of research will make BP stop drilling – only economic and political disruption will.

‘Cultural whitewashing is just one of the ways oil giants like BP maintain their social license to operate. It’s high time that was revoked, as publicly as possible.’

At the end of the performance, the climate change activists stood up and cleaned themselves.

A board in the National Portrait gallery reads: ‘The BP Next Generation workshops provide inspiration for younger artists developing their portrait-making practice … at the National Portrait Gallery, we would like to extend our gratitude to BP for their continued support.’

The gallery said BP’s support for its Portrait Award encouraged the work of artists around the world and enabled free admission to an exhibition, which had drawn more than 300,000 visitors this year.

‘The ongoing debate around BP’s sponsorship of the arts raises important questions about both the environment and arts funding, and we are listening carefully to voices on all sides,’ the gallery said in a statement.

MailOnline has contacted BP for comment.

The latest ‘rebellion’ follows an incident on Friday that saw fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré join West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda protest outside the front of the BP headquarters in London.

(Left to right) Free West Papua spokesperson Raki Ap, Free West Papua leader Benny Wenda, Dame Vivienne Westwood, her son Joe Corre and a member of Extinction Rebellion outside the head office of BP, in London, where they are delivering a report on the company's activities in West Papua

(Left to right) Free West Papua spokesperson Raki Ap, Free West Papua leader Benny Wenda, Dame Vivienne Westwood, her son Joe Corre and a member of Extinction Rebellion outside the head office of BP, in London, where they are delivering a report on the company’s activities in West Papua

Yesterday police launched an investigation into a number of commuters who ‘carried out a vigilante-style attack’ on an Extinction Rebellion protester who scaled a tube train.

Angry commuters dragged climate demonstrators James Mee, 35, and Mark Ovland, 36, from the roof of a train as they attempted to bring chaos to the capital’s morning rush-hour on Thursday.

In video taken during the incident it then appeared as though a scuffle broke out between the protester and the commuters.

Eight XR protesters were arrested as a result of the action but British Transport Police have now confirmed that the commuters involved are also being investigated. 

Commuters at Canning Town station reacted furiously to an XR protester climbing on top of their train

He was dragged off the roof of the carriage after commuters boosted one of their number so he could reach the man's foot

Commuters at Canning Town station reacted furiously to an XR protester climbing on top of their train. Eight XR protesters were arrested as a result of the action but British Transport Police have now confirmed that the commuters involved are also being investigated

The XR gang who caused chaos for London Underground commuters were later identified as a Buddhist teacher, a doctor, a grandfather and a vicar.

Mark Ovland gave up his full-time Buddhist teacher training studies earlier this year to join XR as a ‘full time protestor’.

Other XR campaigners joining him in the Tube action included pensioner Phil Kingston, 83, who earlier this month was pictured standing on top of a fire engine as activists sprayed 1,800 litres of fake blood over the Treasury.

Self-described Green Christian Ruth Jarman, a 56-year-old vicar, was also pictured protesting on the London Underground network.

Authorities are looking for evidence against a number of commuters who were involved in Thursday’s violent rush-hour scenes.

Pictured: Ruth Jarman at the DLR station in Canning Town, east London, as Phil Kingston glues himself to the carriage

Pictured: Ruth Jarman at the DLR station in Canning Town, east London, as Phil Kingston glues himself to the carriage 

Mark Ovland on the Tube train

Buddhist trainee teacher Mark Ovland was among those arrested at Caning Town Thursday for scrambling atop a tube

Buddhist trainee teacher Mark Ovland (left in left picture, and right) was among those arrested at Caning Town Thursday for scrambling atop a tube