Danish artist and sculptor, Thomas Dambo just added a bit of art and fun to the forests of Copenhagen as a part of his mission to not limit art to just within the walls of a museum.
Have you ever gone exploring in the woods and come across giant wooden sculptures that appear out of nowhere really, but still manage to draw you in closer? Each of them perhaps has his own story to narrate, and while one tumbles into the world of stories and tales, one also walks back home with an important lesson – recycling is the only way to sustain and move forward!
Thirty seven year old, Copenhagen resident, Thomas Dambo is an artist and sculptor renowned for creating iconic art through the use of recycled materials. Talking to Home Review about his latest installation, “The Six Forgotten Giants” which is set in the woods of Copenhagen city, Dambo gives us a glimpse into his art, and thought process.
“I believe we need to take care of our planet. Recycling is a big part of this process. And now it is my life’s mission to involve others in this endeavour.” Dambo is of the opinion that discarding things without understanding their value is criminal. And we couldn’t agree more. “I make big, positive and interactive projects to show people that recycling can be much more than just trash.”
“I start with the location,” Dambo remarks when asked about his process of creation. “That and the materials inspire me. If I find a lot of dark brown wood, I make a sculpture with dark brown fur. A bunch of twigs is converted to hair.” Hidden in Rødovre, Hvidovre, Vallensbæk, Ishøj, Albertslund and Høje Taastrup, the giants, who are essentially siblings, are part of a treasure hunt to get people to become more involved with nature and take note of their surroundings.
Dambo spent days biking around the city scouting for places that would help bring his philosophy to life – places he believes people don’t visit very often as they are “off the beaten track”.
One of the first things you will notice about Dambo’s sculptures is how easily they mix with their environment, almost as if they are in their natural habitat. “Some of them grab trees, some lean back against the hill, or even sit on the ground.”
“I believe people are no longer curious and don’t explore their surroundings as much. As we grow older we start living in a triangle of sorts – between home, the workplace and the supermarket,” Dambo laments. He goes on to say that you don’t need to travel long hours to different places to experience life.
According to Dambo, life resides in your own city, sometimes even in your own backyard. By placing the giants in the woods, he wants the residents of Copenhagen to revisit their city and take in a new experience.
“I believe placing the sculptures in the woods would give people a much bigger experience than if they were installed in the city square where people would barely give it more than a passing glance.”
All of Dambo’s sculptures are made entirely from recycled wood. “The giants are made from six hundred pallets, an old wooden shed, a fence and whatever else I managed to scavenge,” he says. Dambo works with his two assistants and three interns on projects that have been installed across the world. “The sculptures can only be found by using a treasure map, or by following the instructions set in a poem engraved into a stone near each sculpture,” he adds.
“I have been sleeping for a year; I wake up when I feel like it. Crawl in to my belly, and join me – but not if you snore. I’m from a big group of siblings, and we are hidden to humans. They call us the forgotten giants – You can find my sister ‘Little Tilde’ in Advedøre At the grassland, behind the hill filled with cows and sheep.”
But why is it a treasure hunt? Dambo wanted it to be a family experience, one that both parents and kids would be able to partake in. “The treasure hunt adds a bit of mystique and adventure to the project,” he says. ‘Teddy Friendly’, Dambo’s favourite giant, is an illustration of Dambo’s thought.
Located in Hakkemosen, the place is home to beautiful lakes and a little forest. Dambo placed the sculpture on the banks of a stream. “Its arm extends to the opposite bank, thus creating a bridge for children to cross.”
Placed near and far (you have to follow the map to find your way), the giants are Dambo’s way of bringing a community of people closer. His aim, of course, is to spread awareness about the importance of recycling. However, he chooses to do so in a manner that is not just unique, but also augments and blends in with nature. ‘The Six Forgotten Giants’ have their own voice. And they speak a common tongue – reduce, reuse, recycle!
Text By Priyanka Menon
Photographs Courtesy Thomas Dambo