John Baxter Mather

John Baxter Mather (5 March 1853 – 7 November 1940) was a Scottish born journalist, newspaper proprietor, landscape painter and art critic in South Australia.

John Baxter Mather.jpeg

HistoryEdit

Mather was born in Edinburgh, Scotland to Thomas S. Mather (c. 1824 – 20 June 1865) and Jessie Mather (c. 1826 – 20 October 1901), and emigrated with his parents to Australia around 1860, settling first in Portland, Victoria.[1] Around 1864 they moved to Mount Gambier, South Australia, where after completing his schooling he started working as a compositor for A. F. Laurie and John Watson's Border Watch.[2] In 1874 he left Mount Gambier for a time to work as compositor for Lawrie and Fairfax at the Portland Guardian where J. F. Archibald was an apprentice. After some initial sparring, the two became friends.[3]

In 1875, he started work at Naracoorte, South Australia for the Border Watch, running its daughter publication, the Narracoorte Herald, which shortly afterwards he and George Ash acquired. In 1889 they were sued for libel by a wealthy squatter and lost everything they had.[4] A great deal of sympathy was evinced locally for the pair.[5][6]

He moved to Adelaide and found employment with The Advertiser as a compositor, then joined their literary staff[7] as an art critic, a post he filled for fifteen years. From 1893 to 1899, he contributed drawings to the Adelaide Express, using the chalk plate method, at which he was particularly adept.[8]

He was at the forefront of process engraving technology; the first in South Australia to do colored monotypes.[8] In 1900 he and Joseph Hanka founded Mather & Hanka's Excelsior Engraving Company of 4 Franklin Street, Adelaide, etching chalk plates (a fore-runner of the process plate) then making half-tone plates for printers, including The Advertiser. A year later the company was run by Mather and George Mackie[9] By November 1903 the company was known simply as J. B. Mather, Photo-engraver, and ceased operation in late 1910. In 1913 he was employed by the Art Gallery of South Australia, revising the catalogue which H. P. Gill completed in 1903.[10][11]

Other interestsEdit

He enjoyed writing humorous verse, and contributed occasionally to The Advertiser, and frequently to the magazine Quiz and its successor Quiz and The Lantern. A few are listed here:

  • Township v. City Life[12]
  • The Decayed Township[13]
  • The Old woman (Turgenieff done into Verse)[14]

His published books include:

  • Out of the Depths: based on passages in "De Profundis", Advertiser printers 1908.
  • In Memoriam J. M., Hassell Press, Adelaide 1927
  • Heine's North Sea, Advertiser printers, illustrated, 1933
  • A Metrical Version of Ivan Turgenieff's Poems in Prose, Advertiser printers, illustrated, 1934
  • My Queen Elect and other Verses Advertiser printers, 1937[15]
  • The Voyagers and other Verses, Advertiser printers, 1938[16]

He was also a landscape painter of some distinction, in watercolors, and a member of the Adelaide Easel Club. He was elected an associate of the South Australian Society of Arts.[8]

FamilyEdit

He had two brothers: Alexander Henderson Mather (c. 1861 – 13 June 1942) of Mount Gambier, and George R. J. Mather of Naracoorte. A sister, Margaret married Omar Arthur of Mount Gambier on 17 November 1875. Another sister married J. J. Driscoll of Mount Gambier.

He married Johanna Fraser (c. 1853 – 26 June 1921) in 1880; they lived at 38 Myrtle Street, Prospect, where he died.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Obituary". Portland Guardian (Evening ed.). Vic. 7 April 1941. p. 3. Retrieved 11 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) This belated obituary is more complete and accurate than that of the Advertiser of 8 November 1940
  2. ^ "Obituary". The Border Watch. Mount Gambier, SA. 9 November 1940. p. 3. Retrieved 11 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "A Primitive Newspaper". The Mail. Adelaide. 8 April 1916. p. 10. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Death of Mr. J. B. Mather, Former Proprietor of "Narracoorte Herald"". The Narracoorte Herald. SA. 15 November 1940. p. 1. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Testimonial to Mesdames Mather and Ash". The Narracoorte Herald. SA. 7 January 1890. p. 3. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ George Ash abandoned journalism, studied law and was elected to for the seat of Albert, which encompassed Naracoorte and Mount Gambier, in the South Australian House of Assembly. He did much in Parliament to remedy the evils of dummyism, of which he had written in the Herald. He died of typhoid a mere five years later.
  7. ^ "Metropolitan Memoranda by Aurolyous". The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser. SA. 16 May 1890. p. 3. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) The digital source identifies author as Autolycus (access date 12 June 2015).
  8. ^ a b c "Journalist and Artist". The Border Watch. Mount Gambier, SA. 2 May 1933. p. 4. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Advertising". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 1 July 1901. p. 2. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "A Fine Art Catalogue". The Register. Adelaide. 19 April 1913. p. 14. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ McCulloch, Alan Encyclopedia of Australian Art Hutchinson of London, 1968
  12. ^ "Versical Varieties". Quiz. Adelaide. 23 May 1890. p. 6. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Versical Varieties". Quiz. Adelaide. 30 May 1890. p. 6. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "The Old Woman". Quiz and The Lantern. Adelaide. 16 February 1899. p. 7. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "An Artist Sings". The Border Watch. Mount Gambier, SA. 13 April 1937. p. 6. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Musings and Memories". The Border Watch. Mount Gambier, SA. 27 September 1938. p. 6. Retrieved 12 January 2015 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)