The art of boules

The 'cancer scab'

The cancer peel...

 I am fantastic at Boules. QUT postgraduates, my old newswriting lecturer and my mum showed me this. And to think all I was supposed to be doing that afternoon was serving tea and coffee.

 My mother dragged me kicking and screaming into Kelvin Grove on my uni holiday last week. The purpose of this was to help her run Ignite, a conference for postgraduate students in the creative industries at QUT.  

Ignite was three days long and opened with an exhibition of some of the more arty faculties’ post-grad work. I was there at the opening to serve wine and some orange juice. It was foolish of the organisers to forget that academics so readily serve themselves when it comes to free alcohol, taking every opportunity to say it, and act upon it. I don’t think we opened much of the orange juice.

I immediately took the advantage of the audience’s love of pouring their own glass (to the rim), by taking a red for myself as I started to mingle. There was a good turn out to the opening, with the university Dean and Head of Creative Industries giving speeches. I confess I have a soft spot for the people who dedicate the majority of their lives to PhD’s, my mother dedicating my first eight years to her own thesis. They are all so passionate about their topics of choice and disagree on just about everything. Without trying I became the mediator of some rather heated discussions which could boil down to a little less than nothing. But while I was listening to people studying the strangest topics (fairytales was my favourite) I began to see what this conference was all about.

 Music, film, painting and structure were all on display to create an incredibly energetic and colourful vibe throughout. What is still clear in my mind however is the display of a large cancer scab, split into a dozen layers and encased in glass for viewing at one’s leisure. Forthrightly disgusting, and ultimately fascinating. You really felt for the poor artist when one of the techies tripped over a light chord that was wound through the display, consequently smashing half the panels of glass…and the scab.  

Post grad student Rodney and his project

Hey Mr. alfoil-covered Tambourine man...

 Another piece that stuck in my mind was from a music post-grad that used light sensors (through an alfoil-covered tambourine attached to his head) to trigger his computer to change melody or volume while he played the violin. A keyboard of sorts was projected onto the floor and as the man moved around the squares, the music changed. The overall effect was watching a man with an alfoil hat box-step while playing violin. While I couldn’t find a productive purpose for the project (and being much to shy to ask), it was incredibly beautiful to watch.  

Out to morning tea and I sighted my ex-newswriting lecturer. He had a whistle. Where he got this whistle or why he had one baffled me until he blew it shrilly in front of the crowd…tea was spluttered. EVERYONE TO PLAY BOULES NOW he cried. Because ball sports are part of the creative industries…right? I would have ducked behind a desk if I hadn’t seen the petrified look of all the book worms in the place. Disregarding my lack of coordination in any ball sport, I looked at my fellow conference-goers. This I had to see.

 Fully intent on being a spectator I manage to get myself into the worst possible position of being a captain of a team, our competition being two German women who were surprisingly enthusiastic. Damn.

 And then suddenly I’m bowling my Boules and the German women start getting ticked off. Before I know it all the other games had stopped (points to my Mum, who was holding her own in the game next to me) and we have a seriously heated match going. Time ran over but the people presenting the papers didn’t seem to mind as they were cheering on the sidelines. The Germans started playing dirty and instead of trying to get their Boule close to the jack they started knocking mind out of the way. I got pissed. My team mates slunk into the shadows as I took every ball for my own. The title of Boules champion all came down to the last bowl, mine of course, and I nailed it.


I can’t remember ever being a sports hero but I can understand why people do the whole Olympian thing now. It was cool. The next day I received a huge gold badge as a medal for my efforts. It says ‘Boules Champion’. I’m going to hang out with academics more often.


Drunk academics getting competitive

Drunk academics getting competitive




  – Joanna Carson 



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