Environmental protest group ‘BP or not BP’ staged a demonstration outside the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh yesterday over its association with the oil and gas company.

The gallery is hosting The BP Portrait Award exhibition, which showcases contemporary portrait painting from around the world. BP has sponsored the exhibition, which is organised by the National Portrait Gallery in London, for the last 26 years.

The group urged the gallery to reconsider renewal of its sponsorship deal with BP. Demonstrator Claire Robertson said: “The cultural legitimacy that BP gains from association with arts institutions far surpasses any benefit to institutions themselves.”

A spokesman for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery said: “The BP Portrait Award exhibition which finishes tomorrow has been enjoyed by many thousands of visitors during its run in Edinburgh. This afternoon there was a brief protest at the Portrait Gallery and we of course respect the right of people to air their views in a peaceful manner.”

A spokesman for BP declined to comment.