John Drew MacKENZIE

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]


Painter, illustrator and copper worker (all metals and enamel)

works and access

Likenesses of the artist includes The Young Apprentice, Newlyn Copperworks by Stanhope Forbes, which depicts a young Johnny Payne Cotton being instructed by J D MacKenzie [See Hardie (1995) and many reprints in Forbes literature]

Works include: Boats Unloading (1896); A Sketch (bought by TC Gotch at NAG in 1896); Prince Arthur and the Friends of Intemperance and a subject from Edgar Allan Poe (RA)

Access to work: Perhaps the most notable examples of his work are the four large copper plaques - Earth, Air, Fire and Water - that decorate the facade of the Newlyn Art Gallery, New Street, Newlyn, Cornwall

The Cornish Magazine (1896) Vol I published an illustration by MacKenzie accompanying of a poem by Herrick and featured in 1898 line drawings by MacKenzie




RA (3) 1886-1891

NAG 1895 (Mixed shows from opening of Gallery)

Newlyn Industrial Classes (shows locally, nationally & Liberty's)


Whitechapel 1902



NAG (Committee)

Newlyn Society of Artists (Committee)



The Cornish Magazine (1896) Vol 1 (illus of a poem by Herrick)

                                           (1898) line drawings by MacKenzie

Cornishman 1 Aug 1889

Cornish Telegraph 25 Mar 1909

Bednar (2009 3rd ed) Every Corner was a Picture, Checklist

Bennett & Pill (2008) Newlyn Copper

Berriman Arts and Crafts in Newlyn 1890-1930 (photograph of a circular copper dish designed by J D MacKenzie and workd by P Hodder, Newlyn Industrial Class 1899 p15, pl 3: Barrie Aughton, Newquay, courtesy Bill Hester)

Graves RA Dictionary 1769-1904

Green (1995) Artists at Home

Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery

             (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall pp130-4, illus; see A Garrihy essay pp64-7 on Arts & Crafts)

Johnson & Greutzner (1975) Dictionary of British Artists

Newton et al (2005) Painting at the Edge

Laity (1986) Newlyn Copper (Exhibition catalogue, Penzance Town Council)

Whitechapel Exhibition catalogue ( epr Hardie 2009)

The Yellow Book (1895)