The Ball – Rhombic enneacontahedron


I started this project about a year ago as a sort of prototype for another project- a sort of geodesic dome.
Never being one to make life simple, I didn’t want to just copy the design for a geodesic dome, I decided I would work it out myself, and so have a better understanding of the geometry.
I wished I had had some lessons in geometry, but in a way I am quite proud of the things I worked out myself. It’s hard to know what you are ignorant of until you come across the questions that reveal it.
I won’t go into all the detail about how I made it or worked everything out because it would take far too long and unless anyone is really interested, it would be far too boring. One day I will, but not right now.

The reasoning behind it is to demonstrate some basic points about perspective- the individual faces of the shape have your normal straight line perspective, but added all together we have curved lines. This in order to have a complete view of Castlefield. I chose castlefield firstly because of its significance in various networks and because it is a very 3 dimensional space (I say very because most of the time we operate on a 2 dimensional plane, admit it). I hung it so that the top of the ball wouldn’t be the point at which you are looking up. If I had done it this way, the horizon would run with the equator of the ball, something I tend to avoid doing in my paintings, so as the ball spins the horizon is horizontal at 2 points and the rest it curves down and then up.

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I made a ball and not a dome firstly because I wanted to find out if the shape I had designed would actually add up to make a complete shape (I hadn’t learnt how to design on computer at this point), and secondly as a little homage to Dick Termes and his Termes spheres which I had come across in my research into perspective while trying to write about the topic.

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The whole joke on me is that even though the shape has 90 faces and are two kinds of rhombusses, I don’t think it technically is a Rhombic Enneacontahedron. I was a bit skeptical from the start but not being one to back out after I had already started, I made it anyway. The faces are all a little curved due to the tension holding them together. I have started rebuilding it slightly differently, but now I know much more about how to go about the project regarding the calculations and materials, which was the whole purpose of the excercise, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

As most balls of this kind are adaptations of icosahderons or dodecahedrons, I began the painting with a dodecahedron net, which I painted en plein aire in Castlefield, trying to work out where the edges would match up in order to fold it all together into a complete polyhedron. I took photos afterwards, printed them out and folded it into a dodecahedron, didn’t do too badly except for a couple of edges, which I didn’t correct on the painting as this would be dishonest.

As I painted the ball after putting it together, taking photos of it in order to make a sort of photostitch photosphere view thing doesn’t really work. As you can see for yourself. It was incredibly frustrating using the software available, as it is designed to make life simple, and since I had already passed by on the make life simple approach from the beginning, trying that now would be futile. I had to individually edit and stitch together each bit of facet on photoshop. I think the result is kind of frightening, but fun. I’m not going to do the whole 360 viewer thing right now because its a pain.


I would like to thank Liz Scrine, Michelle Lawrenson, Bill Clark, Alasdair Swenson, Richard Smith and the folks at Hardman Square for their help and patience with this daft project.


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