Arts & Entertainment

Timber winged dragon guards Italian forests devastated by storm Vaia

By Andrea Cuesta

Rome, Jan 11 (EFE).- Perched on a hill in the Italian forest of Alpe Cimbra, a huge winged dragon sculpted from trees that were damaged by a powerful storm guards the forests of northern Italy.

The mythical creature by artist Marco Martalar, created in the Lavarone forest in the northern province of Trento, has become a tourist magnet after going viral.

The dragon “cannot be dominated by humans,” Martalar tells EFE.

Three years ago, the strong sirocco winds of storm Vaia destroyed 42 million trees, causing one of the greatest natural catastrophes the northeast of Italy had ever witnessed.

The aftermath of the storm led to the felled timber being purchased by national companies in favor of importing wood, but hundreds of logs remained draped on the woodland duff.

“For me, it was a crime to leave those trees lying in the forest without giving them a meaning, especially an ecological value because the storm was caused by climate change,” he explains.

And so, Martalar began to gather tree trunks, branches and roots from the damaged forests and over the course of two months arranged them “like a puzzle”, without cutting the wood or shaping it, until the enormous six-meter tall winged dragon emerged.

Martalar has created a repertoire of animal sculptures, including a rooster and deer, using this “strange way of sculpting with firewood” without carving it.

“This technique makes sculpting more difficult because I can’t shape the wood, but in the end it’s a matter of patience and seeing how each piece fits together,” he adds.

Martalar feels a deep connection with firewood having always lived in nature, and considers it “a living material that is part of the concept of life.”

In addition to the use of firewood, all of his sculptures are exhibited outdoors, “in natural places, to encourage people to visit them.”

But Dragon Vaia has achieved much more than encouraging mountain tourism in Lavarone, attracting not only visitors from the area but from all over Italy and other countries who were drawn to the magical creature after seeing photos of it on social media.

“Anything that allows people to take to nature to reconnect with it is welcome,” the artist continues.

“With the pandemic, when it is more difficult to go to forests, visiting this sculpture is a way to go to a calmer place. And this tranquility is transferred to people, who relax while observing it, which is what nature achieves,” Martalar muses.

The dragon will gradually morph and rot with the passing seasons until one day it disintegrates into the forest it once came from. EFE


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