Who is Thomas Dambo?
Thomas Dumbo Biography
He is a Danish Recycling Artist well know for his mesmerizing wooden troll sculptures.
And while the word, ‘scavenger’ typically brings to mind vultures or other animals that feed on refuse, in the case of the artist, such a title is misleading. What Thomas Dambo does is more akin to upward recycling. He takes what would otherwise be trash, and transforms it into something desirable.
Thomas originates from Denmark, because, of course he does. He has always loved building stuff and began at an early age building treehouses and boxcars from old wood he found around his neighborhood.
After High School Thomas began studying to become a carpenter, although he quickly became bored with the repetitive work. Searching for a different line of creativity, he applied at Kolding School of Designs and was accepted in 2005.
During his early years at the design school, Thomas started to see great potential in all of the stuff that people threw out. He was especially intrigued by all the ply-wood that was thrown away daily by constructing sites etc, and one day when he came across a giant container filled with this, he got the idea for his first major street art project; “Happy City Birds”. Since then Thomas has built more than 3000 birdhouses and spread them in several cities all over the world.
After graduating, Thomas got his own workshop in Copenhagen from where he started his business, while also pursuing his passion as a street artist. He is well known around the world for his large recycle sculptures and installations.
Aside from his massive creature street installations, Thomas has won the admiration of art connoisseur and bird lovers alike with his ‘Happy City Birds’ project.
Thomas began this particular endeavor many years ago. The idea for Happy City Birds sprung from Thomas being a former graffiti artist, and was looking for a way to do street art in a positive way that everyone can understand. Not everyone understands graffiti, but even Thomas’ grandmother understood the purpose of birdhouses.
As all of Thomas Dambos projects all of the birdhouses are made from recycled materials and scrapwood. Most of the paint even comes from Danish paint company Dyrup who has donated a truckload of wrongfully toned paint to Thomas.
Since 2006 Thomas has made and put up more than 3500 birdhouses in different shapes and colors all over the world. Some he and his crew made themselves, while others were co-created in various workshops, some have been used for making big sculptures and art projects, while others have been spread all over different cities.
Thomas Dumbo Arts & Sculptures
Danish recycling artist Thomas Dambo has installed 7 giant wooden trolls in Boom, Belgium to celebrate 15th anniversary of Tomorrowland, an electronic dance music festival held in Boom, Belgium.
It is literally and figuratively a bridge between culture, nature, music, art, the neighbourhood and end the entire world.
Like all of Dambo’s sculptures, each troll has been shaped out of reclaimed wood, illustrating the artist’s self-described ability to make “anything you can imagine out of trash.” While the figures’ gesturing hands, giant feet, and expressive faces were crafted in Copenhagen, their colossal bodies were built on-site. Once assembled, most of the trolls came to measure anywhere from 15 to 30 feet tall—though Little Arturs, the lounging figure, boasts an impressive 60-foot height.
If you happen to have visited the recreational domain De Schorre in Boom, Belgium in recent weeks, you probably noticed something remarkable. As if by magic, or some mythological force, seven Scandinavian trolls have set up camp in a “Magical Troll Forest”. But have no fear: these giants may be big – between four and eighteen metres tall – and look a bit intimidating, but they are actually good natured and wouldn’t hurt a fly.
At the request of Tomorrowland, the Danish artist Thomas Dambo has brought the trolls to life. Using old pallets, recycled wood, broken branches and fallen trees, he builds the most wonderful creations and mythical creatures who have been known to show up all over the world.
Thomas Dambo builds giant wooden trolls around the world and hide them in wilderness and forests. By doing this, He hope to lure people away from concrete cities and computer screens, into the wild and reconnect them with the natural world. He builds all my enormous sculptures of recycled materials to show the potential in this precious material, which is often discarded and becomes a threat to the natural world.
Since he was a child, he always loved to hear different fairytales and folklore stories, and dream himself away into magical worlds filled with dragons and trolls. As a teenager, he started writing his own stories as a rapper, putting out records, touring and creating a universe, where he could tell these stories. In his latest project, he combined all of the above. Recycling, Rapping, Nature, and Sculptures.
The project is called “The 7 Trolls and The Magical Tower.” It’s a fairytale, told through sculptures and words, hidden in a forest, all made of recycled materials. I know it sounds a bit confusing, but watch the video and it will all make sense.
Thomas Dambo Troll Locations
JOE THE GUARDIAN – Morton Arboretum, Chicago, 2018
FURRY EMA – Morton Arboretum, Chicago, 2018
NIELS BRAGGER – Morton Arboretum, Chicago, 2018
ROCKY BARDUR – Morton Arboretum, Chicago, 2018
SNEAKY SOCKS ALEXA – Morton Arboretum, Chicago, 2018
LITTLE ARTURS – Morton Arboretum, Chicago, 2018
THE TROLL HABITAT – Morton Arboretum, Chicago, 2018
BIG BOSS BERTEL – Copenhagen, 2015
LITTLE TILDE – Vallensbæk, 2016
MR LEE – Pyeonggang, South Korea, 2018
SIMON SELFMADE – Aarhus, 2015
ROB THE SNAKE – Gold Coast, Australia, 2016
LEO THE ENLIGHTENED – Smokey Mountains, Tennessee, 2018
MR AND MS SCRAPWOOD – Smuk Fest 14
FREDERIKKE – Copenhagen, 2015
BERNHEIM FOREST GIANTS – Kentucky, USA, 2019
ANNA OF GREEN – Hamburg, 2016
Here are a couple of facts about his work
- The height of the 7 trolls ranges from 7 to 18 meters (23 to 59 feet). The tower is 17 meters (56 feet).
- It took me and my crew of 15 people around 25 weeks to build.
- The wood is mainly old shelves from a supermarket, pallets, and branches from fallen trees.
- It is located in a Belgian forest.
Thomas Dambo used recycled wood
Local residents exploring their backyards, visitors out for a day in the fresh air, walkers enjoying a beautiful patch of nature, fitness buffs who have come to De Schorre to train or festival guests with tickets for Tomorrowland: any of them could find themselves face-to-face with a troll – hidden between the trees. Keep in mind, six of the seven creations are in areas of nature that are not used by Tomorrowland.
The trolls are anything but scary monsters who could frighten little children, they are adorable creations who happen to be several metres tall. And they have been born from recycled wood. The sculptures themselves are all made from reclaimed materials such as wooden pallets, fragments of demolished wooden buildings, broken branches and fallen trees.
Wood that comes from the studio of the artist, Thomas, as well as materials found on site at De Schorre. However, in order to ensure that the trolls live a long, carefree, healthy life, the basic framework has been built from new, treated wood. Volunteers from the neighbourhood and woodworking students from the technical school PTS in Boom helped with the construction.
Deep in the woods, the trolls have also built a giant observation tower, out of thick tree trunks and fallen branches. Inside the tower lives ‘The Holy Troll’ and from the top, you have a spectacular view of De Schorre and far beyond. On a clear day, you can see 25 kilometres away. That means that, you can even spot the Atomium in Brussels on the horizon in the distance.
This year, Tomorrowland will be celebrating its fifteenth anniversary and the trolls will be a gift to De Schorre and the neighbourhood in honour of the occasion.
Five years ago, Tomorrowland commissioned the artist Arne Quinze to mark the tenth anniversary of the festival with ‘One World’, a permanent pedestrian and bicycle bridge that incorporates 210,000 messages from people around the globe.
All images courtesy Thomas Dumbo