Reclaimed Wood Trolls are South County’s Newest Tourist Attraction

Danish sculptor Thomas Dambo brings “waste no more” message and enormous sculptures to Charlestown


Get ready to welcome a pair of unusual creatures who will be taking up residence in South County this summer: two giant forest trolls. Designed by renowned Danish artist Thomas Dambo, and built completely from recycled materials, the sculptures will make Ninigret Park in Charlestown their permanent home beginning in May. Dambo is the world’s leading recycle artist, with installations in more than 20 countries on five continents, and over 125 trolls scattered around the world, including sites in Maine and New Jersey.

The long-term plan is to create an attraction that places the mythical creatures at locations around the state. “We hope to have a few more trolls in the future to form a Rhode Island ‘troll trail’,” says South County Tourism Council president Louise Bishop.

Dambo has an extensive history as an artist and musician, which began when he was a child growing up in Denmark. “My first big art endeavor was as a hip-hop musician; I made nine albums in six years and played a couple of hundred shows,” says Dambo. “I created all the album artwork, the posters, the stickers, all the music videos; I was running the whole band. That taught me a lot.”

He also practiced creating street graffiti, which included tagging and other demonstrations deemed illegal by local authorities. He began creating and placing birdhouses wherever he could to avoid ending up on the wrong side of the law. “The birdhouses were all made from recycled materials,” he explains, “and unlike the street graffiti art, which are two-dimensional paintings, the birdhouses are sculptures.”

In 2011, Dambo was able to quit his job to become a mission-based artist with an MO of “waste no more.” Based on a 55-acre farm in Denmark, he employs about two dozen artists and production assistants, hosts a YouTube series called Trash Talk, and is recognized as a leading environmentalist. “With the trolls, I’ve found my little/big niche,” he jokes. When the Charlestown trolls are complete, Dambo says he will have installed 130 around the world.

Dambo is committed to repairing the
environment and uses his talent to promote environmental awareness. He’s developed a narrative, telling the troll’s stories through poetry and fairy tales. “My poems are an important part of my art. They set the scene and are the whole backbone of my installation,” he says. “I try to tell a story that has relevance in the area, under the umbrella of a larger story. My bigger story is that trolls are basically the animals and the plants – my trolls are nature, you could say. My stories are about the clash between humanity and nature. My trolls are the unspoken warriors of the plants and the animals that can’t speak. That’s the symbolism of my stories.”

Dambo works directly with local communities, assembling his sculptures with the help of volunteers of all ages. “It’s a little bit of school and a lot of fun,” he says. “We learn how to build something big. It’s always nice to meet local people; they invite us for a barbeque or tell us the best places to go.”

“The purpose of my art is to show how we can be better humans,” says Dambo. “I think we should be less wasteful and more mindful of the resources we have. We should try and preserve those resources and not contaminate the natural environment. We are super wasteful in the way we use and discard things, so I try to educate through stories, sculpture, art talks, and my poems.” Learn more at and



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