Climate activists leave Tate Modern after all-night protest against BP

Climate activists have left the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall after an unauthorised all-night performance lambasting BP’s sponsorship of the gallery.

This article is written by Karl Mathiesen for The Guardian. Read the original here.

On Saturday night, protesters from Liberate Tate faced down officials who had threatened to call the police if they did not leave when the museum closed at 10pm.

The Tate’s head of safety, Dennis Ahern, addressed the group along with a member of the Metropolitan police. He said the gallery respected the British right to protest but warned them: “We’ve got a duty of care to make sure members of the public leave the licensed premises at the time of closing”. If the activists did not leave, he said the gallery may ask the police to step in.

“It’s a back-down,” said Mel Evans, a Liberate Tate activist and author ofArtwash: Big Oil and the Arts, after it became clear the protesters would be allowed to spend the night inside the hall. “Maybe it’s a sign of how much the groundswell of public opinion has shifted that the Tate doesn’t feel like they can shut down this discussion.”

The group spent 25 hours scrawling words of warning about climate change in charcoal on the sloping floor of the hall. They brought with them sleeping bags, food and even a toilet, which they placed behind a bamboo frame and curtain. They left at 1pm on Sunday.

Thousands of visitors to the Tate filed past the protest on Saturday as if it was another work at the prestigious gallery, but on Sunday officials closed the Turbine Hall to the public.

Liberate Tate have staged 14 protest performances since 2010 calling on the Tate to ditch its deal with BP, which is worth around £224,000 a year.

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