Insight & Analysis

A world-wide treasure hunt for trolls

Published: May 2023

One man combines his passion for fairy tales and recycling into a way of encouraging people to explore nature, with a quest to find his 100th sculpture.

Thomas Dambo, a Danish sculpture, has created a complex and challenging treasure hunt to find his 100th sculpture. After 99 sculptures, “I decided to make a super secret one and make it an intricate hunt that leads you around all the other ones I’ve made through the years,” he says.

Dambo began creating these sculptures back in 2015, with the ambition to “lure people away from concrete cities and computer screens, into the wild and reconnect them with the natural world.”

The trolls are made of repurposed wood, and some are as high as 30 feet, requiring a whole team to assemble them.

Dambo’s characters are inspired by fairy tales. However, he opposes the common depiction of the mythical creatures, making his trolls appear gentle and playful, attracting vast amounts of visitors.

He gives each troll its own story, often taking inspiration from the location the troll will be placed in. For example, Isak Heartstone, a troll that was in Breckenridge, Colorado, was inspired by the state’s history of mining and so the troll is sat stacking rocks, with the idea of “trying to build a new little mountain because he’s sad the other mountain has been broken down.”

This 100th troll is called ‘Moon Mother’ and is a pregnant troll who has “crawled into the most secret spot in the forest to give birth,” says Dambo.

Dambo’s work is located in 70 countries around the world, with one of his most recent collections appearing in the Peel region of Western Australia.

To find the 100th sculpture, Dambo is encouraging global teamwork, as he explains in his YouTube video that you need to get a code at the physical site of each sculpture in order to find the location of the centennial sculpture.

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