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Anti-BP artists pour oil on themselves in protest

ART activists created 25 dramatic “self portraits” on Saturday by having oil poured over themselves at London’s National Portrait Gallery as part of a protest against energy giant BP.

The Art Not Oil coalition called on the publicly owned gallery to end BP sponsorship of the annual Portrait Award because of its responsibility for climate degradation.

Anna Johnson, one of the 25 oily activists, said: “It’s time for public arts institutions to stop being publicity agents for Big Oil.

“Any celebration of British art bearing BP’s logo is also endorsing that company’s business model, which is wholly based on the destruction of a safe, liveable climate.

“The National Portrait Gallery is marketing BP as socially responsible when it is one of three main companies most responsible for climate change.” 

The protest piece, entitled 25 Portraits in Oil, features artworks of oil-smeared faces across the gallery — one for each year that BP has sponsored the award.

Art Not Oil’s John Sands said: “Not long ago tobacco companies were seen as respectable partners for public institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery. 

“That is no longer the case. Fossil fuel companies are now being seen in the same light.”

Saturday’s guerilla art action comes after a series of protests against BP at the British Museum and at both London Tate galleries. 

Art Not Oil also celebrated the last Shell classic concert on June 8, following which the Southbank Centre ended the oil firm’s sponsorship.

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