Needham alabaster standing ring sculpture

Claude Needham

“My art is an experiment with the induction of attention and presence for the alteration to higher dimensional morphology.”

Needham’s favored media are pastel, wood and alabaster sculpture and installations. His pastels are daring ventures into the terra incognita of labyrinthine areas that are accessible to the bold voyager who dares to use the most innovative forms. He has developed over the years a distinctive style, and invites us to partake in his vision quests.

Needham alabaster sculpture two forms joined

The wood sculptures of Claude Needham are reminiscent of the early Cubist masters in France and Germany as well as some of the smaller works of Henry Moore. Needham uncovers forms that are inherent in the raw woods which come to him.

His sculptures are three-dimensional in form but convey strong overtones of non-visual perceptions. They are an invitation to touch, sense and feel the compassionate mood that is unique to the process that takes place in his studio: the liberation of inherent forms from neglected material. He calls his technique: “Direct carving, with a hand guided by adoration of the piece—the veiled inner form. ”

Needham alabaster sculpture freeform

The same process of “redemption” of found objects that tend to remain unnoticed to the ordinary vision applies to the installation art of Claude Needham—an old flatiron, a ball-and-chain, indefinable pieces of iron from the early industrial age, anthropo- morphic fragments assembled from the discards of daily life—the makings of a post-industrial sculpture.

The aesthetic of Needham’s oeuvre frequently touches worlds that are as alien as Lovecraft’s tales of the underworld. Startling horror lingers on the edge of the confrontable, but there is always a balancing dash of humor. A Solomon’s Ring that he uses to get through to his morestartling piece is: “You can’t change what it is, but you can learn to like it.”

ARTIST'S STATEMENT

An ant walking over a sleeping person’s chest may have all manner of explanation for the rising and falling of the fleshy ground. Philosophies and religions can grow from rampant speculation as to the “real” significance of the movement under foot (all antie eight of them). When pushed to speak about my art I usually refer to it as a form of breathing. The manifestation of that breath in this world looks like art.

Needham alabaster sculpture solid within a ring

Whether I am drawing a building, crafting a hallway, or sculpting an extended torus I’m involved in portraiture — non-human, but portraits none-the-less.

I love working in multi-dimensions.

My preference at the moment is sculpting in alabaster. The stone works well with hand tools. The involvement with the medium is immediate and protracted enough to form a relationship to the piece.

When it comes to flat art, pastels and printmaking are my preferences. The sculptural quality of pastels allow me to work the piece from a multi-dimensional perspective even though on the surface of it the paper is flat.

My wood sculpture is influenced by Henry Moore, my bronzes are compared to early Bragg, but my alabaster is more reminiscent of Noguchi.

Needham alabaster ring sculpture

Somewhat anomalous to all of this is my lifetime touch and go fascination with assemblage and found-object sculpture. Some of these are truly weird. Stool with Rubberbands and Hand could probably be used as evidence at a sanity hearing was it not labeled as art. Rusty Box and Wire I, II and III capture something terribly elegant and subtle. To me they are not unlike Tibetan Prayer Wheels. These are to be played as musical devices in addition to any visual merit.

A common thread that weaves through my art is an appreciation of visual stimulation of non-visual perceptions.

I don’t have any faith or reliance on the aesthetics of humans. If my motivation for the creation of art was to service the art appreciation of the local bipeds, I don’t think I could fight the weight of apathy. My artistic efforts typically stem from a mood of compassion and adoration of the piece that lies veiled in the undeveloped form. Liberating these inherent forms is enough onto itself.

If someone steps forward to caretake and maintain these works once they are complete so much the better. One less “child” for me to keep track of.

On many an occasion startling horror lingers on the edge of the confrontable. I think this is often the case when one breaks into higher aesthetics. My way of dealing with this typically relies on a balancing dash of humor and two reminders from long time friends “This too shall pass” and “You can’t change what is, but you can learn to like it.”