Walter Marsh is a journalist based on Kaurna country who writes about history and culture.
The young man looks straight ahead, both eyes fixed on the camera even as his hands feed a piece of leather through the sewing machine. Daylight streams in between gaps in the corrugated iron and pinned animal skins around him, and at the front of his workbench sits a pair of elastic-sided leather boots.
It’s a recognisable style that’s come to evoke the Australian outback, pastoralism and one name in particular: R.M. Williams. But the photograph isn’t of Reginald Murray Williams – it’s of an Adnyamathanha man of the northern Flinders Ranges named Rufus Wilton.
Rebecca Richards was handed an A4 photocopy of Wilton’s portrait while undertaking fieldwork in 2016. For Richards, an Adnyamathanha and Barngarla academic and Australia’s first Indigenous Rhodes Scholar, it conjured up stories she’d heard as a kid, of how her people had collaborated with R.M. Williams in...
Nothing without context. Politics, society, culture.