Wales

Bid to find Owen Roberts' lost artwork from 1937

Original drawing Image copyright Canolfan Y Fron
Image caption The original drawing for the sculpture is examined in Sunday's programme

Residents of a Gwynedd village are hoping the BBC's Antiques Roadshow can help them locate an award-winning artwork, lost for more than 80 years.

Quarryman and artist Owen Roberts from Y Fron made the Art Deco slate carving showing children playing with blocks.

It won joint-first place at the 1937 National Eisteddfod but disappeared shortly after a dispute over the art competition at the cultural festival.

The original drawings for the sculpture were examined on Sunday's programme.

Roberts had already scooped the top prize at two previous eisteddfodau, and those winning entries are held at the village community centre, Canolfan Y Fron.

In 1937 he was aiming for a hat-trick of victories with his design which not only featured the children, but also a background of Welsh scenes and a slender female figure modelled on the Statue of Liberty.

However, on this occasion the judges could not be split, and the prize was shared.

Community centre chairman Jim Embrey said Roberts did not take the news well.

"There'd been something of a mix-up as the eisteddfod guidance in English stated that the sculptures could be made from stone, slate or plaster of Paris, but in Welsh they only specified slate," he said.

"Because of this Owen felt he'd been cheated of a hat-trick of wins, even though he shared the prize.

"Sadly, he felt so strongly that he never carved again."

Roberts' cousin, celebrated Welsh language novelist Kate Roberts interjected on his behalf, but the judges at the festival in Machynlleth, Powys, refused to alter their decision.

Image copyright Canolfan Y Fron
Image caption Owen Roberts pictured with his parents

However, they did agree to buy his sculpture for £7, about £450 at today's value.

It is thought that it remained in the Machynlleth area and is said to have been on display briefly in the town some time during the 1980s, although its current whereabouts are a mystery.

Vera Thomas, the artist's daughter, and Gwenda Roberts, his granddaughter, hope that featuring the original drawing on the TV programme, which was filmed at Erddig in Wrexham, will lead to the re-emergence of the artwork.

Mr Embrey said: "Neither the drawings nor the sculpture, if it's ever discovered, are worth an absolute fortune but they are of enormous value to the history of the eisteddfod, and in particular the history of Y Fron."

Antiques Roadshow is on BBC One Wales, Sunday 13 January at 19:00 GMT

More on this story