Denmark continues to surprise us when it comes to environmental matters. However, this time in the artistic field. Danish artist Thomas Dambo draws inspiration from Scandinavian legends and landscapes to create artworks made out of trash. He calls himself a “recycle art activist” and the favorite subjects of his works are trolls.
“I want people to know that trash has value” he says. “And the trolls do that, and also help me tell stories, like the legends I grew up with.”
Trolls belong in fact to Norse mythology. According to folklore belief, they live in areas not frequented by men, in the most hidden places of the mountains and the woods to shelter from sunlight. In fact, ancient legends tell that some mountains recalling the shape of these creatures are nothing more than petrified trolls that didn’t return home in time before the sun rose. Most times they are portrayed as evil and horrifying looking beings.
Those of Dambo, however, are far from horrendous. They are huge and they look like good giants. They are all made with recycled wood and other materials that the artist and his team find in dumpsters. After completing the work, trolls are hidden in the green spaces, in perfect harmony with nature. Since 2014 Thomas Dambo has made dozens of huge wooden creatures placed all over the world.
For his works, he admits to thinking of the little ones in particular. “My trolls are meant to interact especially with children. They have big hands and mouths to let them go in and sit on it”. This, by the way, also makes them friendlier than those depicted in legends. His intention is to strengthen people’s relationship with nature and raise awareness on environmental issues.
Indeed, the sculptor says: “I want to take trash and turn it into something that will open people’s eyes and minds. We shouldn’t throw the world out—then we’ll have a world with no mountains, no woods.” Thus also destroying trolls’ habitat.
His latest project “The Great Troll Folk Fest” involves the installation of 10 giants, between 4.5 and 6.5 meters high. These will be hidden in lesser-known places in Denmark, including parks off the beaten track and islands off the coast of Copenhagen. Then the artist will use social media to give clues about their location. “It’s a kind of treasure hunt, a gift for families in Denmark, who may feel sad that they can’t go on vacation” he explains. And then he adds: “The trolls help remind us that there are these beautiful places practically in our backyards”. On his site there is also a map to find his creations.