New Zealand artist Henry Christian-Slane, who received roughly $9,240 as the winner of this year’s BP Young Artist Award—one of the annual awards sponsored by the oil giant British Petroleum and presented by the National Portrait Gallery in London—announced that he will donate some of his prize money to Greenpeace, in protest of the oil company’s financial support of the museum.
“I hope this action will help keep the issue of BP’s role in climate change from being overshadowed by their contribution to the arts,” Christian-Slane told Hannah Ellis-Petersen of The Guardian. “I was very uncomfortable with the idea that the portrait award was being used to improve BPs image. Big oil companies like BP have the power to prevent the fossil fuels in the ground from entering the atmosphere as greenhouse gases, and we need to keep pressure on them to accept this responsibility. The individual has a role to play in this.”
The twenty-six-year-old artist was chosen from a pool of 2,580 entries for the award. His portrait of his partner, Gabi, will be on view at the museum until September 24. He will give approximately $1,300 to Greenpeace, the independent campaigning organization that “uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems.” Members of the group have been involved in a number of protests at the museum.
BP renewed its sponsorship deals with four UK institutions, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, in July 2016. It pledged to invest more than $10 million in the arts institutions over the next five years.