Taking a walk in the woods and suddenly encountering a wooden giant might sound like something from a fairy tale, but it’s real life thanks to Danish woodworking artist Thomas Dambo.
He said officials in Copenhagen contacted him about an art project to attract people to a little used natural area west of the city. Dambo had previously done a sculpture in a hidden place off the beaten tract in San Juan, Puerto Rico, so he thought a series of whimsical wood giants would be just the thing to entice people into the forest.
“As humans we often have a way of choosing the beaten path and the main roads,” he said. “So, when the municipalities of west Copenhagen contacted me about a project it seemed natural to make something which could get people out and explore the beautiful nature in the hidden outskirts, which you usually wouldn’t see.”
Oscar Under the Bridge reaches up like a troll grabbing on the bridge railing to startle the passersby.
Thus began a project dubbed The Forgotten Giants. There are six giant sculptures made primarily out of recycled pallet wood that are carefully hidden and integrated into the landscape. They hide behind trees or lie on the ground. In one case, a troll-like giant hides under a bridge, reaching with one hand up the side as if to grab the passersby.
“It was so fascinating to be biking across the bridge and spot this giant hand grasping onto the railing,” said one visitor. “Then I knew I had to go and study him closer. Since then I have actually gone and visited him a couple of times a week over the last couple of months.
Sleeping Louis was built on a site that had once been used as a homeless encampment. The sculpture features a hidden shelter inside.
Maps, poems, and clues help visitors to the area locate the giants. And apparently the project is indeed working to attract visitors. One man said he would never have visited the area if it weren’t for the attraction of finding the giants.
Sculptor Thomas Dambo and his team built all the Forgotten Giants entirely out of reclaimed materials, such as old shipping pallets.
Dambo said he found a hilltop location that had been used at one time as a homeless camp. He located a sleeping giant sculpture there that you can even climb inside for some shelter.
Teddy Friendly offers a helping hand to form a footbridge at the water’s edge.
The wooded site wasn’t always idyllic. Years ago, it was an industrial site with lots of waste that had to be cleaned up. But now it is wild and natural, beckoning folks to find the giants hidden in the woods.
Sculptor Thomas Dambo reclines on top of his namesake giant, Thomas on the Mountain.
Not only are the sculptures hidden from obvious view, but some of them hide their own secrets, too. One called Little Tilde has 28 birdhouses inside the sculpture.
Hilltop Trine occupies a promontory that offers a fine view for hikers who venture to find her.
You can learn more about the project and other sculptures by Thomas Dambo at his website www.thomasdambo.com.