Long View Sketchbook Page 062

Four of the fifty signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty fly a flag of the Nordic Cross. They are Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The flags all share a similar design, but they have individual histories and symbolism.

Denmark was the first to adopt the so-called Scandinavian cross characterized by the vertical part of the cross on the hoist side. Representing Christianity, Denmark’s cross is white on a red background. Finland’s cross is blue on a white background; the blue said to represent the country's lakes and sky, with white for the abundant winter snow. Norway’s flag is red with an indigo blue Scandinavian cross fimbriated in white, designed in 1821, while Sweden’s cross is yellow/gold on a blue background, colors dating to the country’s royal coat of arms in 1275.

My latest sketchbook entry — the fourth in a series of Antarctic flag designs — plays off the Scandinavian cross. Instead of highlighting the cross however, the four background quadrants are brought to the fore. The upper left one represents the long, dark Austral winter; the upper right expresses the Austral summer; the lower right stands for water and ice; the lower left for Antarctica’s ‘web of life,’ or ecosystems. The cross itself remains a neutral space, acknowledging Antarctica’s lack of sovereign rule.

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