Vivian first moved into Brisbane Common Ground towards the end of 2012 but only stayed for a year. He says even though he made some good friends in the building, he had to leave to look after his mum when she got sick. Vivian returned to Brisbane Common Ground for the second time about six months ago. He says he came back because his mum had decided to live in Townsville with family and everyone was missing him at Brisbane Common Ground. He recounts he received a warm welcome when he moved back in. “They said, Uncle Viv you’re back! This time don’t leave - stay”, laughs Vivian.
Vivian tells a good yarn. His storytelling weaves backwards and forwards through his life, a rich tapestry of past, present and times to come. One story merges into the next; flashbacks to his youth, footy clubs and gridiron glory, the importance of family, painting, music, crocodile hunting up north, people he’s loved and lost along the way, encounters with the spirit world and things unknown.
A Bundjalung man, Vivian says he’s lived locally for a long time. “Since I was a baby boy”, he shares. “I lived near Lang Park until I lost my grandparents in the 90s. Did you know, there used to be a graveyard there, before it turned into Lang Park? On the football field. Sometimes you can feel the hands coming out”, he says with a chill in his voice.
Vivian started playing football as a teenager, but moved down south to play grid iron when he was about 17. He says after he snapped one of his cousin’s kneecaps on the field, he didn’t want to play anymore. “They were all big fellas and I was only a small fella, but I was too fast for them”, he recalls. “They said, why don’t you tackle cuz? I said, nah…I just don’t wanna hurt no one”.
Vivian reckons now he’s back at Brisbane Common Ground, it’s time for him to take it easy and look after his health. He says he can’t play the didgeridoo anymore because of a throat injury and he needs to take medication for his arthritis and other complaints. But he’s keen to keep his art going and is talking with a few of the uncles and brothers in the building about painting a large canvas together. “I told mum I’m gonna stay for as long as I can”, he grins.