An arts project committed to unlocking the history of shops in Main St through street art, the vacant block owned by Ken Jasper is the home of a bold sculpture dedicated to The Red Boot Shop.
Buried by dirt, the tessellated tile shop entrance to W. Cumming’s Red Boot Shop was only uncovered after the hurricane of the mid 2000’a.
William Cumming, a Scotsman, arrived in Australia in 1890 escaping an impoverished background to eventually become a manager in a high class boot and shoe factory in Collingwood.
Leaving the city due to his poor respiratory health in 1896/7, William, wife and children moved to Rutherglen to open the Red Boot Shop. The family story is that they arrived on a very hot day with temperatures of 120F in the shade!
Initially surviving in two hot rooms in the back of the shop, with no gas or electric light, William built a commodious weatherboard house (still standing in Ready St today) where he had a deep block with many fruit trees.
As Rutherglen was an important wine and vine growing centre and there was gold mining as well, good working boots were a necessity. No Kiwi or Nugget then, the boots had to be polished with a ‘blackening’ agent and lots of elbow grease!
William contributed enormously to the music scene in Rutherglen organising and judging concerts and eisteddfods and had a stint as a Shire Councillor.
The sculpture artist, Michael Laubli from Albury has taken a modern twist to the humble but sturdy working boot of the past as a tribute to Rutherglen’s early entrepreneurs and the people they served.
Arts Rutherglen wishes to thank Ken Jasper AM for his patronage, Judy Harrison from the Historical Society for her research and most of all, Malcolm Cumming, grandson who dropped the treasure of the family history into AR’s laps.
About the artist: Michael Laubli
My name is Michael Laubli, I am a local artist from the Albury/Wodonga area and have been creating sculptures since 2012. In that time I have completed well over 1000 works ranging from Giant Dragons to Orchids, Elven tables to sci-fi weaponry, eagles to echidnas and everything in between. Each creation is born from the heart and finds a home with people who have formed special bonds with each piece. Fortunately I have also created many special unique pieces for people which is an exceptionally special experience. If you have any queries please feel free to contact me.