Glasgow Activists Pour Porridge and Spray Soup on Victoria Sculptures


Activists poured porridge and jam on a marble bust of Queen Victoria and sprayed fire extinguishers filled with soup at a large bronze statue of the monarch during two recent protests in Glasgow, Scotland.

The group, called This Is Rigged, claimed responsibility for the two protests, which took place inside the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum at noon on March 3, and at George Square at 10:45 am local time on March 4.

During the protest at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of the activists spray-painted the word “cunt” in pink on the plinth, while the other poured porridge and jam on Francis John Williamson’s 1888 marble bust of Queen Victoria. “We refuse to be dragged back to the Victorian era,” a protester said. “Diseases of starvation including scurvy and rickets are on the rise.”

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The protest at George Square involved two protesters spraying fire extinguishers filled with soup at the bronze statues and granite pedestals of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert riding horses. Both statues are the work of the Italian-French sculptor Carlo Marochetti, known for many public monuments in Britain.

This Is Rigged confirmed to ARTnews that the two incidents on March 3 and 4 were aimed at raising awareness at the rising cost of food and its connection to climate change after other actions failed to garner media coverage. The group is demanding supermarkets reduce the price of baby food and the Scottish government fund community food hubs, citing the rapidly rising number of cases of malnutrition and rickets.

“Any potential damage a bit of porridge could do to a marble bust is absolutely negligible compared to the damage currently being done to our communities,” This is Rigged spokesperson Hannah Bright told ARTnews.

A press release from This Is Rigged identified the two protesters at the museum as Sorcha Ní Mháirtín, 30, and Hannah Taylor, 23. The two were arrested and charged with breach of the peace.

A spokesperson from Glasgow Life, the charity responsible for the city’s museums, told ARTnews that the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum closed in response to the defacement, but that it reopened later that day.

“Our conservation team has worked to clean and restore the bust and remove the profanity,” the spokesperson said in an email statement. “No permanent damage was caused, and Queen Victoria remains on display.”

Regarding criticism that protests at art institutions punish primarily cleaning staff and security, Bright said, “museum staff and security are, at the end of the day, people—people who I think, by and large, can empathize with the reasons we’re taking action. People who are feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis. Most reasonable people don’t want people to starve. Regardless of what you think about porridging the Queen, I think we can all agree that people should be able to eat.”



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