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Mati Karmin – How to Recycle Unexploded Underwater Mines

A well known and established sculptor, Mati Karmin had made his mark sculpting busts, reliefs, statues of grim politicos, or social leaders, or generals, or even the dead for whom he created cemetery complexes. He was good, and he could have gone on doing all that which he did well enough, and earned himself a good name in his home land, Estonia or the neighbouring Finland or other states within the European Union.

And then, one day five years ago, Karmin visited the ex-Soviet fortress on Naissar, a small island in the Gulf of Finland, located to the northwest of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. For a country the size of Haryana, with a population of barely 1.29 million, it is surprising he took so long to visit the island. Nevertheless, the visit turned out to be the most significant in his career, as this is where he was inspired to utilise all those fields of discarded old rusting naval mines. He loved the perfect shape and uniformity of these mines, which has holes, spires and shackles, and which inspired him to launch a brand new furniture line.

Mati Karmin used only two kinds of the mines, the hemisphere and the cylinder, for his new furniture line. The highly creative and now globally famous line of Karmin’s furniture comprises an impressive line up of armchairs, aquariums, writing desks, toilets, beds, cupboards, swings, fireplaces, bathtubs and even a perambulator for babies (with shells of hand grenades thoughtfully suspended over the pram for the child to play with).

The Republic of Estonia is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, which is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia. It was in the thick of World War II, alternately occupied by the Germans and Russians and finally the Soviet Union, until as recently as 1991. In 1942, the Russians set up a secret military facility on Naissar, where they manufactured these huge galvanic, AGSB-type mines, equipped with a ‘Blok’ device and two contact electro-magnetic antennas, which were used to take out submarines.

Estonia was already on the global map for the Skype programme written by Estonian developers. Mati Karmin has now put Estonia on the art map. With the large number of raw material, aka rusty old shells, at his disposal, Karmin can keep on creating new furniture for his global audience.

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