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Whimsical giant troll sculpture made from trash moving into Portland: 'Big and amazing'

The troll sculpture will be on display at the Nordic Northwest campus. It's part of a six-site art exhibition entitled "Northwest Trolls: Way of the Bird King."

PORTLAND, Ore. — Trolls have their roots in Nordic mythology and have been part of stories told for a long time. In southwest Portland, a new troll is telling its own tale — one that's all about recycling and reusing. 

The troll will be on display at Nordic Northwest. The nonprofit honors and promotes the culture of five Nordic nations, and their green campus is an oasis right in the middle of the city. 

Earlier this year, Board President Peter Hjalmar Loop and Troll Project Manager Brady Jensen at Nordic were contacted by Danish environmental artist and storyteller Thomas Dambo about a proposed project.

"I think we took 10 seconds to decide once we had the offer to do that," said Loop.

"Thomas was here in February for the site visit and that's when they came up with this concept," added Jensen.

Dambo, along with his team, have been on a road trip called "Northwest Trolls: Way of The Bird King." They're building a total of six giant trolls along the West Coast.

All of Dambo's trolls have names and stories. The one in Oregon is his 120th troll. He's installed them in 17 countries across the world. 

"This beautiful beast here behind me is called Olep Ballay," said Dambo. "Remember that nature is sacred and beautiful. You can build big and amazing things from trash."

At 16 feet tall, the troll is peering into a Danish-style small house. The sculpture is meant to show the story of old things being made into new things.

Donated pallets and de-nailed wood, things that some would see as trash, are reused here to create a tale of recycling success.

"Absolutely. I mean for me that's the fun part. You get to tell stories and have fun with building," said a volunteer.

The troll exhibition will open to the public starting Sunday, Aug. 13.

"See how beautiful things you can make out of trash and maybe get a little sense of adventure and a feel of magic," said Dambo.

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