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Austin's giant troll is finally finished. Here’s where you can find her.

A giant wooden troll sculpture in the woods. Around a dozen people are standing in front of the troll, observing it.
Pease Park Conservancy
The Pease Park troll, Malin, is primarily made from local, recycled and repurposed wood.

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Pease Park’s newest art installation is tucked away in the woods, but she’s hard to miss. Malin is an 18-foot-tall troll made of local and repurposed wood. And in her hands is an offering: a basin full of water to nourish the wildlife.

But the water is only there if humans remember to pour it.

“It's trying to remind the humans to think about the animals and have them share the water,” said Thomas Dambo, the artist behind the troll. “If we don’t share, there’s not enough for everybody.”

Dambo finished building Malin late last week, just before introducing her to the Austin community. You can find her (and add water to her basin) right off the trail north of Kingsbury Commons, the southern entrance of the park. People driving to visit the troll are encouraged to park at the Austin Community College Rio Grande parking garage or the Austin Recreation Center. Over the next few weekends, volunteers will be there to provide directions.

Malin is the latest of 129 trolls that Dambo has built across the world. Dambo, a self-described “garbage artist” from Denmark, specializes in art with environmental themes and recycled materials.

“We’ve all grown up in this society that has taught us that trash is dirty, disgusting and dangerous, but if we want to save our world from drowning in trash … we have to start praising and valuing our trash,” he said at an artist’s talk sponsored by Pease Park earlier this month.

Dambo’s specialty is turning trash into treasure. That treasure often takes the form of big trolls inspired by Danish folklore and lullabies his mother sang to him. He thinks of his trolls as “the protectors and the voice of nature.”

What is Austin’s troll made of, and how much did it cost?

The Pease Park troll is primarily made from local, recycled and repurposed wood. Dambo built some parts of the body in Denmark and shipped them to Austin for logistical reasons. Malin’s head, for example, took around 100 hours to build in Denmark — but the rest of the troll came together in Pease Park throughout the past few weeks. Several dozen local volunteers helped Dambo’s team construct the troll.

A giant wooden troll head propped onto a wooden frame.
Julius Shieh
KUT News
Dambo and his team built the troll in Pease Park over the course of the past few weeks.

A Bastrop sawmill provided eastern red cedar for Malin’s inner frame. An Austin sawmill supplied repurposed wood harvested from an old water tank on UT Austin’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus. The tank wood makes up Malin’s skin and “fur,” Dambo said.

The roots of Ashe juniper trees — Texas’ beloved producer of cedar fever — serve as Malin’s hair.

The Pease Park Conservancy has more details about the construction materials on its website.

The sculpture cost around $300,000 to install and was funded by private donors, according to Allison Johnson, director of community engagement for the Pease Park Conservancy. Most of the funds came from the Tejemos Foundation. H-E-B and the William Knox Holt Foundation also donated money for the project.

“[Funding] is not coming from taxpayer dollars. It’s not coming from city money,” Johnson said. “It's coming from the support of our donors who really value public art.”

Pease Park has a license to display the troll for 15 years. Johnson said the conservancy plans to incorporate Malin into school field trips and other existing programming.

Thomas Dambo (bottom left) and his team put the finishing touches on the troll at Pease Park on Friday.
Deborah Cannon
KUT News
Thomas Dambo (bottom left) and his team put the finishing touches on the troll at Pease Park on Friday.

How Austin’s troll became a protector of animals, provider of water

On top of using locally sourced materials, Dambo also creates stories for his trolls inspired by each specific place. He first visited Austin in August 2023 — during one of the hottest summers the city has ever experienced. Austinites lived through triple-digit temperatures for 45 days in a row, and the city instituted stricter drought restrictions that are still in effect now.

Dambo learned that Austinites put out bowls of water to help squirrels and birds. That idea of human-animal cooperation formed the basis for Malin’s design.

“We have to remember that we coexist in our world together with the animals,” he said. “Humans take up more and more and more and more space of the world, so basically there's only the leftover space left for the animals. So they can only exist if we allow them to.”

Peaceful coexistence is also the theme of a poem Dambo carved into a stone beside Malin. The final lines remind parkgoers that, in times “cursed with thirst”:

“[I]t always makes a difference when / You fill the fountain up again.”

Not the only troll in town

On your way to Pease Park, you might spot another troll welcoming you to the neighborhood. Gary Schumann, the caretaker of BEPI Park — a mini-park created out of a traffic median just a few blocks away — built his own troll to welcome Malin to the city.

The BEPI Park troll, informally dubbed “the traffic troll,” is Malin’s slightly less elegant, slightly more “Austin” counterpart.

A large wooden statue of a troll sits in the middle of the road with its arms raised wildly.
Julius Shieh
KUT News
"When I'm out there working on it, literally every car will stop and people roll down their windows and talk to me," Schumann said.

“The Pease Park troll is up in the woods, and it's very peaceful and tranquil,” Schumann said. “Whereas my troll is out in the middle of this busy street, and it's gesticulating wildly. And what I'm telling people it's saying is, ‘Slow down, slow down!’”

Schumann called it a “troll that’s trolling a troll.” But he imagines the two creatures are friends — or more than friends.

“The Pease Park troll is a lady troll, and our troll is a man troll,” he said. “Maybe they'll get together at Pease Park and hook up and have troll babies.”

Correction: A previous version of the story stated some of the wood for the Pease Park troll was harvested from a water tower on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus. The Pease Park Conservancy has clarified the wood came from a water tank on campus.

Chelsey Zhu is the digital producer at KUT. Got a tip? You can email her at
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