First the "Mona Lisa," now "Sunflowers." 
Environmental activists have seized upon internationally renowned art as a platform — or in this case a dinner plate — to get their message out there.
Protesters splattered tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh's famous floral painting Sunflowers before gluing themselves to the wall at the National Gallery in London to draw attention to the energy crisis. 
"Millions are being forced to move and tens of thousands face starvation," said 20-year-old protester Anna Holland, according to a press releases from campaign group Just Oil. "This is the future we choose for ourselves if we push for new oil and gas." 
The protest follows another stunt in May by a 36-year-old male activist, disguised in a wig and wheelchair, who threw cake at Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris before getting tackled by security. In both cases, the art remained unharmed.
Whereas the Louvre demonstrator urged museum patrons to "think of the Earth" and its destruction, protesters at the National Gallery had more specific concerns, citing rising oil prices and climate change.
"Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice? The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels — everyday life has become unaffordable for millions of cold, hungry families — they can't even afford to heat a tin of soup," 21-year-old Phoebe Plummer said, according to the press release.
London police arrested two individuals for suspected criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
The group linked to the demonstrations, Just Stop Oil, has claimed responsibility for a series of disruptive protests in London since the start of October — and has vowed to continue. Activists from the organization have also targeted other major artworks, gluing themselves to the frames of da Vinci's "The Last Supper" and John Constable's "The Hay Wain" in London. The group's demands include halting future efforts for fossil fuel exploration, development, and production in the UK.
Just Stop Oil did not immediately respond to Cheddar News' request for comment.
The group's protests follow the British government's decision to open a new licensing round for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. The decision, which comes less than a month before the United Nations' COP27 climate conference, has faced intense criticism from scientists and environmental activists.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has thrown Europe and the world into an energy crisis. Europe's reliance on Russian energy has skyrocketed the price of natural gas as Russia cuts down on gas flow in response to Western sanctions. A recent decision by OPEC+ to cut oil production by two million barrels per day starting in November could also push gasoline prices even higher for consumers. 
At NYC Climate Week in September, leaders optimistically predicted that the energy crisis could push the world more quickly toward green and renewable energy solutions while acknowledging that some nations were taking the opposite tack.
"I'm sure many of you will join me in being increasingly concerned by reports from all over the globe of leaders seeking to find or extract new fossil fuels as an answer to the energy crisis," said Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group.
As COP27 draws nearer, amid a spate of devastating extreme weather events worldwide, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called on nations to make climate action the "top global priority that it must be."