Pieced together with recycled wooden panels and hidden in various locations, larger-than-life troll statues have created a scavenger hunt spanning the globe.
Some are more accessible than others, tucked away in forests or placed right outside of cities, bringing tourists and locals alike into nature.
The artist behind these trolls is Thomas Dambo, a Denmark native, born in Odense, who crafts all of his statues out of found materials. Dambo is considered one of the world’s leading recycle artists and just created his 100th statue in March 2023.Why It’s Newsworthy: Dambo’s trolls promote a message of sustainability, one of the things Denmark is most known for. His statues can also be seen for a short time on exhibit in Atlanta.
The trolls are meant to be playful and welcoming, engaging both children and adults to show them how materials that would ordinarily be considered trash can be turned into works of art.
Dambo’s largest concentration of permanent troll statues is in Denmark, three of which are accessible in Copenhagen by bike.
For a map of Dambo’s Denmark trolls, click here.
This troll, at top, is located in Nordhavn, a neighborhood about a 20-minute bike ride from central Copenhagen that’s been transformed from shipping harbor to livable area.
He can be seen at the edge of the neighborhood in an expansive field of sand, grass and scrap metal. Boasting a stoic expression and a beard of sticks, Nalle is seen dragging a boat behind him, seemingly pulling it out of the water and into the city.
All of the materials used to create Nalle were donated, including the small blue boat, which has since been graffitied.
This statue is also part of the larger project Den Kæmpestore Trolde Folkefest, or the Great Troll-Folk-Fest, which includes nine additional trolls scattered throughout Denmark, erected by Dambo in 2020 as a way to keep creating during the COVID-19 pandemic after his original projects were canceled.
The location is a bit tricky to get to, but Nalle can be reached by following a graffitied fence along Nordsøvej street and taking the gap to a small trail that leads to the field.
This troll was created in 2019 and is located in the bustling center of the freetown Christiania, an area in the southern portion or Copenhagen that has been self-governed since 1971.
Much easier to get to than Kaptajn Nalle, Green George can be seen with hands extended in front of a large mural that says “the world is in our hands,” painted by Rasmus Balstrøm, a renowned Copenhagen street artist.
George is made completely out of scrap wood taken out of the garbage disposal bin in Christiania.
Anna Morensen, a resident of Christiania, says she thinks that the large troll statue adds value and charm to the area, attracting visitors to stop and pose for photos.
“We get many guests who come and want to see it. So yeah, it’s very popular,” she said.
Currently, George holds white, petal-like pieces in his hands, arranged to look as though he is sitting cross-legged reading a book.
The troll, below, built most recently in Copenhagen, Suttetrolden Sanka was created in 2021 and is located in Remiseparken, a neighborhood about a 20-minute bike ride from the center of the city.
This troll is also relatively easy to find, situated in an area populated with smiling children, in the center of both a playground and goat petting zoo.
Known as the pacifier troll, Sanka can be seen lounging in between two trees dangling a large bounty of pacifiers above his open mouth. Dambo wrote a fairytale about Sanka, hoping to lure children into leaving their pacifiers with the troll.
Today, there is a fence that has been put up to stop people from climbing on him, but that has not stopped children from leaving their pacifiers in clusters around the statue.
An Exhibition In Atlanta
This year, from Feb. 18 to Sept. 17, 2023, Dambo’s trolls can be seen at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, in an exhibit called Trolls: Save the Humans.
The exhibit consists of six trolls placed throughout the garden, conveying messages of sustainability.
Jessica Boatright, vice president of marketing at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, says they’ve seen about an 8% increase in total visitation in the first quarter of 2023, which is the span of time the exhibit has been on display.
“We’re excited to see guests of all ages enjoying Thomas Dambo’s incredible sculptures and getting inspired to find new ways to care for our planet,” she said.
While these trolls are not as hidden as the ones scattered around Denmark, it’s still a fun experience to stroll around and find them all.
Dambo’s troll statues can also be found in a few other places throughout the US, and their locations can be seen using his extensive troll map.
Abigail Austin is a senior majoring in journalism at the University of Georgia.
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