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Crawford Art Gallery Alamy Stock Photo

Man who threw soup at painting in Cork gallery as a climate protest to pay cleanup costs

Thomas Shinnick pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to George Atkinson’s Anatomical Study.

A 27-YEAR-OLD climate change protestor who threw soup at an artwork in the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork last year is set to pay for the cleanup costs associated with his actions.

Earlier this week Thomas Shinnick of Main Street in Charleville, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to a painting — George Atkinson’s Anatomical Study — on 10 November, 2022. He also pleaded guilty to being in possession of a screwdriver on the same occasion.

The painting, which is covered by glazing, was not damaged in the incident. However, the second floor of the gallery had to be closed for a period to allow a clean up operation to take place.

Today at Cork District Court, Shinnick’s parents offered to pay the €450 which the gallery spent on the clean up. Their son will pay them back in instalments.

Shinnick also pleaded guilty today to resisting arrest arising out of a separate incident on 3 May 2022, when gardaí were called when he refused to pay his bus fare in Cork city. The court heard that Shinnick threw a closed fist at the investigating officer narrowly avoiding contact.

Solicitor Diarmuid Kelleher, representing Mr Shinnick, said that his client has been seeking help for personal difficulties. Shinnick has 12 previous convictions. However, he was without a criminal history until the age of 24.

He is on good terms with his family who are helping him with his issues.

He is in Housing First accommodation in Charleville and has stayed out of trouble. He is attending a horticulture course and hopes to get a job in the near future.

Judge O’Leary remanded Shinnick on bail until 14 September. The adjournment was granted to allow for the preparation of a more up to date psychiatric report.

Meanwhile, at a previous appearance in Cork District Court for the criminal damage offence earlier this week Shinnick said that his actions did not kill anyone but that climate change will.

After being sworn in he told Judge O’Leary that he wouldn’t have thrown soup at the artwork if it wasn’t behind glass. He described his actions at the gallery as being a “disruptive, non-violent direct action.”

“I did no damage to the painting which was behind glass. I did not kill anyone, but climate change will.

I recognise that it is a ridiculous action and I am not saying everyone should be throwing soup at paintings. I am not a criminal. I am a scared little kid trying to fight for their future.”

Shinnick said that approximately a third of the world’s food is wasted.

“That is 1.3 billion tonnes a year. Many people are living off soup kitchens in this country. My choice of vegetable soup from Penny Dinners was intended to be a reference to the current cost-of-living crisis in Ireland.

Shinnick was wearing a plain suit for his most recent court hearings. Earlier this year at a court hearing he wore a navy suit with a shirt and tie and a tweed cap. However, he also had a a luminous orange high-vis work jacket over the suit.

Attached to the jacket were handwritten signs with messages which include “No art on a dead planet” and “We won’t quit”.

Olivia Kelleher
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