John Drew MacKENZIE
Painter, designer and illustrator Born on 10 April 1861 in Shanghai, China (GRO), the son of James Mackenzie, a Scottish merchant, and Euphemia, a Canadian mother.
MacKenzie arrived in Newlyn in 1888 as a painter and illustrator, and thereafter the whole direction and purpose of his life changed. A committed Christian (Quaker), who practiced his faith in daily life, he was soon deeply involved in the community life of the Newlyn fisherfolk.
In 1890, with the help of a handful of local artists and others, he founded the Newlyn Industrial Class (later called The Newlyn Art Metal Industry), with the aim of providing a useful occupation for young fishermen in their spare time and during times of unemployment. He was a brilliant designer, and soon the young craftsmen were executing his ideas mainly in repousse copper, but also in brass and pewter, sometimes with enamel embellishments.
In 1892, the fine repousse designer and craftsman John PEARSON joined him from the Guild of Handicraft in Whitechapel as a teacher of teachers, and soon the best Newlyn metalwork was appearing in London exhibitions - and ultimately at Liberty's. Thus, he voluntarily abandoned his ambitions as a painter, although he still made line drawings from time to time.
Mackenzie played a leading part in many aspects of local life, both religious and secular. He ran Bible classes, read the Lessons, designed with Frank BRAMLEY the Band of Hope banner, helped run the Seaman's Rest Centre, and umpired cricket matches. With Reginald Thomas DICK he set up the Newlyn Press that printed, among other things, the short-lived Paper Chase, a journal published by Elizabeth FORBES, and edited by Fryn JESSE.
A life-long bachelor, he lived variously at Belmont on Paul Hill, The School House at Gwavas Quay, and in lodgings at 2 Antoine Terrace, Newlyn. The start of WWI brought a suspension of workshop activities, though Mackenzie continued to involve himself in Newlyn life, and for several years he served on the Committee of the Newlyn Art Gallery. In July 1918, at the age of 57 and in poor health, he was in Norfolk camping with a group of young Newlyn fishermen who had joined the Cornwall Volunteer Training Corps attached to the Sixth Suffolks when influenza broke out. In Mackenzie's case, this was followed by pneumonia, and hee died in the Norfolk War Hospital on 22 July 1918 (GRO).
According to one tribute, "he devoted himself to the care of two sick Newlyn lads, and this hastened his own death."
He was a much admired figure in Cornish life. [Summary contributed by TFG Jones, to Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall]