Squareball is Inspired by a Japanese farmers’ attempts to grow cube–shaped watermelons for efficient packing. The Japanese farmers attempted to manipulate nature, in order to accommodate modern industry. O’Connell took on a similar challenge for both its formal and figurative possibilities. In Squareball, O’Connell examines the notion of ‘nature contained’, a concern which surfaces constantly in her work, as she finds repressed nature unsettling. In Squareball, a protruding point ruptures its otherwise hermetic seal. This symbol of germination and growth threatens to undermine the tense form of the work.
Squareball is the only piece from this series of works that O’Connell physically engaged with, personally carving its form out of carbon fibre. During this process, she was faced with the sheer futility of Squareball’s concept. Her attempts to literally produce a square ball, continuously resulted in a form that was more rounded than she desired, one that she worked to square off. It represents the simple, frustrating task of attempting to unify a problem and its solution.
Squareball, from its title to its construction, makes manifest the impossibility of merging a circle with a square. Its form only further frustrates the notion of combining these diametrically opposed shapes and ultimately reiterates the futility of attempting to control nature. O’Connell’s sculpture epitomises a contradiction in both terms and forms.