A fundraising appeal, launched by registered charity Awen Cultural Trust to restore a ‘long-lost’ painting by the highly esteemed Christopher Williams to its former glory, has been achieved thanks to the community of Maesteg and its Town Council.
Generous donations made by local individuals and Maesteg Town Council mean that the painting can now be repaired and reframed by professional art conservators, ready for display and interpretation in the redeveloped Maesteg Town Hall when it reopens.
The painting, which depicts the Llynfi Ironworks, is thought to be Williams’ only known landscape of his beloved hometown. It was kept in storage by a relative of the artist, and tracked down by Williams’ great-grandson.
Born in Maesteg in January 1873, Williams was brought up at the family’s grocery store on Commercial Street until he was 13, when he was sent to a boarding school in Cardiff. He later studied at London’s Royal College of Art and is credited with several notable works, including depictions of characters from The Mabinogion – ancient Welsh tales of myths and legends – as well as portraits of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who described Williams as ‘one of the most gifted artists Wales has produced’.
A socialist and member of the Fabian Society, Williams was committed to promoting an interest in the painting and sculpture. He and his wife donated paintings to museums, local authorities and universities throughout Wales, for the public benefit. These included six paintings which have been on display in Maesteg Town Hall since 1934.
Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, which manages the Town Hall on behalf of Bridgend County Borough Council, said:
“We are thankful to the family of Christopher Williams for allowing us to bring this painting ‘home to Maesteg’, where it will be seen and appreciated by anyone who visits the Town Hall. We are also very grateful to everyone who donated – including Maesteg Town Council – to the painting restoration fund. Their generosity will ensure this painting is protected and preserved for many years to come.”
Councillor Andrew James, Mayor of Maesteg, said:
“It was a pleasure for Maesteg Town Council to make a donation to enable the restoration of the Maesteg Iron Works painting. It is important to the Llynfi valley to recall our rich industrial heritage in the area. This painting by our very own Christopher Williams, plays a large part of the history of the valley. The painting will be displayed proudly in the valley for future generations to enjoy.”
Cllr Neelo Farr, Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, added:
“It is fantastic to hear that this long-lost piece of art from one of Wales’ finest artists has been rediscovered and will take pride of place at the redeveloped Maesteg Town Hall.
“We are looking forward to being able to open the doors to the public again so that they can enjoy the next chapter of this historic building which has been designed with a fitting nod to both the past and future.”