Like many artists, Thomas Dambo had to put his life’s work on hold at the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Thomas is a world-famous artist and recycling advocate who creates massive troll sculptures all around the globe. He was embarking on one of the busiest years of his career when everything suddenly got canceled.
The artist was in Puerto Rico working on a sculpture when the pandemic hit. He quickly flew back to his home in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he wondered what he could do to keep his operation running.
“I just plummeted straight into depression obsessing about how to keep my art career afloat, how to pay the bills, would I have to fire my assistants, and would I have to leave my workshop,” he wrote. Eventually, the answer came to him!
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After pondering around and moping a bit more I decided to just start crunching to make the best of it! I wanted to make a: TEN SCULPTURE, NATIONWIDE, CORONA-FRIENDLY TREASURE HUNT FOR GIANTS IN THE WILD!
“It invites the viewers to go on a treasure hunt, not only to see the sculptures, but also to discover hidden gems in nature,” he explained.
He put out a call on social media asking for support, and his fans responded in a very big way!
Thomas has always enlisted help from volunteers to construct the giant, friendly trolls that are his trademark. Every sculpture is made entirely out of recycled scrap materials like old pallets, fences, and scavenged wood. As a thank-you, each completed piece is named after a volunteer who helped out. Each troll also has a poem engraved on it.
“I think we had around 1,000 people volunteering to help build, scavenge wood, take pallets apart, and make sandwiches…. We even had people come out to make coffee for the people making sandwiches for the people taking pallets apart. It really turned out to be a massive community project.”
In the end, what Thomas thought would be one of the darkest periods of his life wound up being his best summer ever! Volunteers loved having a purpose during the lockdown period, and since they were working outside, it proved to be a safe, fun thing to do while everything else was canceled.
Each of Thomas’ troll sculptures is designed to work with its environment. Some serve as bridges over rivers and streams, while others hold campfire pits and bird feeders.
Many of the trolls do double duty as dens for wildlife or playgrounds for kids of all ages.
“So the project was both a way of putting my mind away from that loss but also a way of putting that energy towards something positive,” Thomas said. “And obviously, everybody else was in the same situation as me, so I figured I could do something that would entertain and involve as many people as possible.”
The troll treasure hunt is now complete! All across Denmark, people can follow the clues from one troll to the next, enjoying all of the forgotten forest spaces they’re usually too busy to explore.
Thomas hopes his art will inspire people to “see the big potential in recycling and taking better care of our planet.”
What an amazing way to turn a bad situation into something that benefits so many! Don’t forget to share this story to make someone smile.
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