Licence to Spill

1st July Update – View License to Spill video report here

On the evening of the 28th of June at approx 7:15pm, Liberate Tate In protest over BP’s sponsorship of the arts performed a “Solemn” oil like spill at the Tate’s Summer party.

Dressed in black and veiled the performers carrying black buckets with BP logos spewed molasses over the entrance way as onlookers watched in amazement as the Portland stone floor was consumed by the black oil like mess.

Feathers were scattered and filled the air and in the same manner of approach the artists gracefully paced their escape.


Licence to Spill – Platform
Apart from catastrophic spills like the Deepwater Horizon, there are a whole host of adverse impacts that are associated with the production of oil. On the local level, it often involves extreme forms of pollution for local communities, while regionally oil is frequently associated with greater militarization and conflict. Globally, carbon emissions, oil companies, and our collective dependence on the product they push, are taking us ever closer to the edge of climate catastrophe.

To download Licence to Spill, a new release from Platform, visit

Art Not Oil
Since 2004, Art Not Oil has aimed to encourage artists – and would-be artists – to create work that explores the damage that companies like BP and Shell are doing to the planet, and the role art can play in counteracting that damage.
Info :

Tate is right to take BP’s money
Despite disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, cultural institutions must be prepared to deal with companies such as BP – not least if they’re to survive arts cuts

Tate Britain party picketed in protest against BP sponsorship
The Good Crude Britannia group of artists says BP logo represents stain on Tate’s international reputation

Oil painting: Artists gatecrash Tate Britain’s summer party in protest at BP sponsorship
Protesters have picketed an art world party as they called on Tate bosses to cut their ties with sponsor BP over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Should the Tate continue to accept BP sponsorship?
A group of artists and writers have protested that the Tate Britain is tainted by BP’s sponsorship, following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Should the gallery continue the relationship?



  1. nik devlin says:

    Nice. Bunch of middle class foundation students protest at BP’s sponsorship of the arts by pouring a load of molasses and feathers all over the Tate’s entrance, then leaving it for the cleaners to sort out.

    Yes, point taken, BP are bad bad disgusting people who have filthed up an major amount of the world and it will take a long long time to make good. But taking it out on some minimum wage cleaners? At the Tate? Foundation course stuff. Do it direct, for God’s sake, take it to the BP HQ at St James.

  2. thirdman says:

    Wow, how very clever of you, a pointless protest by a bunch of spineless, middle-class art students which achieved nothing more than creating extra work for some over-worked and under-paid cleaners.

    Well done.

  3. LordManley says:

    So let me get this absolutely clear; In protest that BP (who produce oil, which does have negative effects) use some of their profits to fund arts, some children threw molasses (a product which has had its own share of spills – at the pavement outside the Tate.

    I suspect that BP will be severely damaged by this action, whereas the low income cleaners will be uplifted and gratified that their dictatorial and oppressive employers have suffered this blow.

    I particularly enjoyed the aggressive way in which the lead protester threw his molasses directly at the young staff member, clearly a cog in the well oiled corporate machine which is BP. You can tell he is a wrong ‘un, he is wearing a yellow vest.

    May I suggest targeting Transocean with some Nivea or perhaps poorly cement up the doors to the Halliburton buildings next? That would show them.

    This seems like misguided, poorly considered low level vandalism, akin to throwing eggs at houses on Halloween.

  4. Heather says:

    I hope you cleaned up the mess you made, not leaving it so some poor Tate employee to scrub off… What a pretentious load of shit. I’m embarrassed for you.

  5. meepmeep says:

    Does Liberate Tate’s support for the arts extend to paying the Kronos Quartet for the use of their music?

  6. nigel paxton says:

    I’ve just been speaking to a mate who lives near theTate. He says it’s still a mess there today, the cleaners were able to get much of the gunk off the stone, but it has left stains that will need some sort of detergent to clean.

  7. LordManley says:

    Some sort of oil based detergent?

  8. nigel paxton says:

    Im sure they could find some sort of ecologic friendly one with lemon juice so it would all smel nice too.

  9. Faulty says:

    So being middle class disqualifies you from expressing yourself against BP, against Tate? How exactly can you tell the demographic of this group of artists when they’re shrouded in black? I guess we hold off all means of creative and peaceful demonstration out of respect for ‘the cleaners’ in future? Please. It’s spinning trolls leaving negative comments about this action that are the embarrassment here. This is a great and inspiring action that deserves praise. The more exposure of the Tates association with BP the bigger the embarrassment and the greater hope that one day Tate will reclaim its dignity and end this repulsive association with this abhorrent company.

  10. nik devlin says:

    Inspiring? Ha! Either you’re deliberately missing the point or… well. The point I’m trying to make is that it was a pointless action, a waste of time, and one that a lot of people, across the spectrum of politics, and belief in eco-action, are laughing at. The Tate? Do me a favour. TAKE IT TO BP.

    As to knowing their demographic, I know what colleges they came from…

  11. Faulty says:

    Your point is that it was pointless? Perhaps you’re missing the point of their action. We’re already TAKING IT TO BP. We’ve being doing this for sometime already, but while we’re at it lets have a fucking pop at Tate too, and the rest of the UK cultural institutions that are saddled up with them until they end their association with the oil industry. Raising awareness of this is the point of this protest and in my opinion it achieved it’s goal. And Nik, I’m curious, how many people “across the spectrum of politics and eco action” have you encountered since Tuesday? Nah, thought not. Now do me a favour and fuck off back to whatever PR company your working for

  12. nik devlin says:


    No, I don’t work for a PR company, I have respect for myself. Neither am I with the Tate, BP, or any other organisation with an active interest in this.

    And if you followed this across the internet, you’d see that there’s a *skipload* of chat about it – I’ve read comments about it on 7 difefrent website. Take your blinkers off, and see how it’s been received. Yes, it’s generated debate, but mostly pretty negative stuff.

  13. Jakub says:

    I don´t think that it was a perfect action, but i still think that it´s great that it was done! Stick it to them and don´t worry about the thumb-rolling, up their ass critics. The status quo was broken and the Tate got the message!

  14. Jakub says:

    … when reading these comments, it also makes you wonder where the solidarity is? Do the critics think it´s wrong to expose BP´s sponsorship of the Tate? Or are you just scared of confrontations?

  15. Steve says:

    People say peaceful protest accomplishes nothing. I say Ghandi. If we don’t get off the oil were fucking doomed hahaha. All our children are gonna inherit a unbreathable atmosphere hahaha. All the feathers and Top Gear in the world wont change these facts my advice buy a oxygen tent and lots of tanks to go with it.

  16. Luca Galiano says:

    Mr. Nik Devlin

    Your wife, Edwina Fitzpatrick has been gaining art funding from whom? For what? How many thousands? To show where?
    She also makes her living from teaching a “Bunch of middle class foundation students” to be as you say “pointless”.
    Stop being so bitter and resentful.
    Some young people follow their heart.

  17. nik devlin says:

    Yes, Mr Luca Galiano, she gets art funding. It’s called a salary, she’s paid by the Department of Education. And, as you must also know, her independent work has always had a very strong ecological/sustainable bent, so she has always been incredibly careful where her funding comes from, what it consists of and where it’s shown. And yes, she teaches a “Bunch of middle class foundation students”, and considering how many of them took vociferously against that action, and how several of them have done much more effective work with the likes, for instance, of Cape Farewell, I’d consider it a job well done.

    My point, the one you deliberately missed, is that this action was pointless. All it did was make some tiny ripples, then disappear. Nearly a year later, and it’s been pretty much forgotten. The only reason I even saw your comment was to show a friend the vid here, during a conversation about pointless protests.


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