Sunday, July 3, 2022

This is not the border between Canada and Denmark

A disputed but paintable border
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

My original plan, now that Canada and Denmark have finally agreed on where to divide up Han Island between the Canadian territory of Nunavut and the Danish district of Greenland, was to paint the landscape along the newly established Canada/Denmark border.  However, when I Googled some images of Han Island, I found it’s about the least picturesque place in all of Canada and/or Denmark. 

About the same time, I came across some photographs of a much more spectacular 'border' along the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the Karakoram Range of the Himalayas.  I decided to paint that one instead.   This painting is based on a photograph by Cory Richards in National Geographic Magazine 03.2021.  It was taken from a Pakistani post on a lateral moraine beside the rubble-encrusted waves of the Baltoro Glacier.

Besides being much more paintable, this area known as the Highest Battleground in the World has always been much more contentious than Han Island, where Canadian and Danish armed forces have amicably taken turns 'occupying' the disputed territory over the years.  Han Island legend has it that each time one country was driven off, they would leave a supply of whisky for the other side to celebrate their victory.

At the other extreme, the disputed but paintable border (actually a line of control) in this painting has been the scene of many armed skirmishes over the years since partition. The United Nations has stationed military observers in India and Pakistan for over seventy years.  My husband was one of them in 1966-67.