Antti Nieminen was born in 1975 in Tuusniemi, grew up in Kuhmo, city known for its chamber music festival founded in 1970 by Seppo Kimanen. Nieminen graduated in metalsmithing and after in goldsmithing at Lahti Design College. His field of work is blacksmithing, making jewellery and public sculptures, his website is (www.vaskitsa.com). After some years of living in the Helsinki area, Nieminen bought an old school building from Taipalsaari located about 20 km from Lappeenranta. He moved there, built his new studio with clay plaster and small logs and little by little he repairs his home. It is a place in the middle of the nature next to lake Saimaa, an ideal site for creative working. Around the place, there is a scattered community of about 300 houses. Nowdays people working in the city of Lappeenranta, there are very few farmers anymore. I met Antti Nieminen at the end of June on a Monday late afternoon at his studio. When I entered the forge was hot and he was beating metal on the anvil, the room was full of big and heavy tools; gas bottles, hammers, pliers, artworks in process standing by. Our conversation is spontaneous, I did not send him my questions beforehand, so we talk freely. Nieminen has a very peaceful character and he should, because at home has four small children to grow up.
Nieminen's metalworks fascinate us with beautiful primitive forms in which we can discover the traces of the hammer that has bended the metal and we can imagine the heat of the blacksmith's forge, the heartbeats of the maker, to realize that something exists with textures, the tactile quality of the surface, that the creator wanted us to be aware of.
Are you happy here in the countryside?
Yes, it is a wonderful place to live and work. I would never change for Helsinki city life.
Also living here is much cheaper than in the capital area. I have been in this place since 2011. My family roots are from this area, the next village is called Nieminen, so I could say that I came back to my roots!
As you started your metal studies, was it making craft or art that interested most?
At that time when I was studying in Lahti, the school had two departments, the design and the art college. I was studying at the design college, but I was much involve to the art college through friends and students, so many design students thought I was an art student. Art has always been my passion. It is sometimes a dilemma, am I an artist or a craftman. I enjoy all my work, others can decide to call it art or craft. During my studies I learned to deal with metalwork, it was the old school time, students had to learn the skill of taming materials. Today the have a different approach, much more conceptual.
Could you define your work?
Ii is rather difficult to define my own work, I think it is for other people to define one's work. If I could I would dedicate all my time creating works for public spaces, since these works are meant for everybody. I enjoy sharing my experience with many viewers. Jewellery works are much more personal. In my work I always like to add some humour, artworks should have a pinch of it. But the important thing is to get metal's own spirit out, to make metal talk its own language with the help of skill and vision.
How is your working day?
Days are different, sometimes I start working in the morning with a wedding ring made of silver or gold, and in the afternoon I dedicate myself to make free metal work. One has to realize that working with metal is a slow process, a sculpture has many parts and also I can use many different techniques that only professionals will notice. When creating new works I rather work making small three dimensional models than working with computer design programmes. It is my way of doing things, a way of life.
What direction your work is going to?
I would rather work with commission works, but I also enjoy making objects. I have been earning my living with my own work for the last 17 years, sometimes I have commissions like the two sculptures in Lappeenranta, one was placed at a roundabout and the other at the main library's park and sometimes I do works for exhibitions.