Danish eco-art: The Forgotten Giants

Copenhagen, Denmark– a city known as one of the greenest, happiest, and fashionable places on earth has its reasons why the country is so loved by their people and visitors who have visited the country. I was one of them- the six months that I lived in Copenhagen is still like a dream that I will never want to wake up from, which to this day I still reminisce about. The life that Danes live are like a fairy tale; not only are there most attractive model-looking people on the streets, but Danes are genuinely happy with the health and education system, and their lifestyle and culture in general. Most Danes I have talked to during the time of my exchange program have said that they would never want to leave the country because of their sincere love for the country. Moreover, Danes are good-hearted, loyal, and clever which is understandable considering the environment they are living in. The whole country has a sustainable mindset and is raised in an environment where being green and sustainable is common sense. Look on the streets of Copenhagen and you will see that the most common transportation is bicycles. Look at the fashion industry and you will understand that Copenhagen is the capital of sustainable fashion. Look at eco-art and Danes will direct you to the six trolls that are located across the outskirts of Copenhagen. As his creation is a highlight of eco-art in Denmark, this blog will focus on Thomas Dambo’s art and how it had an impact on the people in the world.

Thomas Dambo is a Danish recycling artist who creates giant (think four to eighteen meters tall) wooden trolls and other sculptures around the world including Denmark, Belgium, Australia, Korea, China, Amsterdam, Germany, and the United States. These sculptures all have names that seem like they have their individual identity, but what’s more eye-catching is that these artworks are made out of trash and waste materials. For example, the ‘My Forgotten Giants’ consist of six large sculptures that were made solely from recycled materials and local scrap wood such as broken branches, pieces of demolished wooden buildings, and fallen trees. These trolls are only located in hidden areas such as the outskirts of Copenhagen, as visitors could experience a sense of surprise and look forward to finding these sculptures. All you are given is a map that looks hand-drawn by children which brings a playfulness feel to the so-called sculpture treasure hunt.

Image taken from https://thomasdambo.com/works/forgotten-giants/
Image taken from https://thomasdambo.com/works/hill-top-trine/

Sleeping Louis, pictured left, is one of the six forgotten giants that was created for people to walk, play, and even sleep inside. This idea came to Thomas as he saw abandoned food waste and sleeping bags that had been left behind by homeless people when he was discovering the area. This gave him the idea to create a safe space for those people to sleep in so they would have a proper shelter.

His sculpturing is definitely not a one-man-show. His work is only able to come live with the help of volunteers and local students who were willing to give Thomas a hand. In return, the artist names the sculpture after the volunteer’s name as a reward. It goes without saying that he does not fail to give a sense of community to the helpers and locals.


Moreover, Thomas’ work has been recognised as a work of art that has caught eyes of many eco-artist. Unfortunately, as I did not have the chance to visit these trolls and see them in person, I interviewed a friend who currently lives in Denmark, Matthew Lawless, who had visited the trolls.

When I first saw the sculptures, I thought they were remarkable, and I believe the artist has done a very successful job implementing and integrating art into the nature and its surroundings. It highlighted the relationship of its artwork and the environment around it because these trolls are located in the woods. They were placed outside of Copenhagen so I had to travel outside of the city which I would have not done if it weren’t for the trolls. In other words, it had given me the opportunity to visit outside the main city area and that also made my trip special.”

Image taken from https://www.avontuura.com/7-giant-trolls-by-thomas-dambo/


Throughout the creation of his projects, the underlying message that I got was the use of waste for meaningful art. The below quote from Thomas Dambo highlights the meanings behind his artwork and how we should look at waste from a different perspective.

 “I’m very proud of this project because we have brought 200 people and 20 tons of trash together … I make these kinds of projects because I believe that the world is drowning in trash. People look at trash as something that has no value, but if you apply a creative and open mind to trash, then it can become a ship that can sail the world into the future. It doesn’t need to be a world that is drowning in trash- it can be a world that can be saved by our trash. Trash is a material and it only depends on how you work with it. We can design an entire world out of trash. We need to look at it and then think about what to do with it. That’s why I’m building these bigger than life scale projects. By doing that and involving people, they will open their eyes and see the possibilities and opportunities that lay in our trash. I hope that my art will inspire people to recycle and encourage them to be kind to nature and our planet”

(Quote from https://www.avontuura.com/7-giant-trolls-by-thomas-dambo/