Prestigious restaurant Oli's Thai not only serves top-rated dishes but also serves as inspiration to a local artist who will be exhibited amongst contemporary art in a major national show.

Work by the Jericho-born Merlin Bateman-Paris has been selected from over 1,500 entries to appear alongside artworks by some of Britain’s leading artists.

Mr Bateman-Paris, who currently resides in East Oxford, works at the Thai restaurant on Magdalen Road, where he said he meets 'a lot of interesting and inspiring people'.

The artist also works part-time at Arbequina, the Spanish tapas on Cowley Road, where a lot of his work is currently exhibited on the restaurant's second floor.

Part of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) Annual Exhibition, his work will be on display at Mall Galleries, London.

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Mr Bateman-Paris attended his first life drawing class when he was just 14.

However, he has now moved to being a self-taught artist pulling his inspirations from both renaissance and modern art.

His chosen medium is charcoal, which allows him to be expressive and fast to keep the marks organic and original.

Currently, the artist is focusing his time in life-drawing sessions and producing work consisting of both full scale and portraiture.

But Mr Bateman-Paris is not the only Oxfordshire resident whose paintings will be featured in the London exhibition.

Another local talent, Mark Fennell, will see his self-portrait 'The Diagnosis' showcased at Mall Galleries.

Mr Fennell, whose work has previously been exhibited by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters on a number of occasions, painted his portrait after he was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Executed in oils with palette knives, the self-portrait was the first one in a series of 18 works titled 'Chemo Selfies', which the artist produced while undergoing a three-month chemotherapy treatment.

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Mr Fennell said he was in 'such a shock' when he received the cancer diagnosis.

He explained his inspiration behind the first portrait: "I felt compelled to paint myself and show how I was feeling.

"God knows why I did it but it seemed important at the time."

Mr Fennell, who confirmed the chemotherapy treatment was successful, said he now feels 'healthy and well'.

The professional artist, who works predominantly in oils, paints from his studio in the hilltop village of Brill in Buckinghamshire.

The artist is also an elected member Oxford art society, where his self-portrait was exhibited last year, and a member of Buckinghamshire Art Society.

Some notable sitters include include celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson, John Hood, Lord Mayor of Birmingham, and singer-songwriter John Otway.

However, Mr Fennell's 'The Diagnosis' was the only piece of work he submitted to the RBA.

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Holding an open submission exhibition in London every year,the organisation is dedicated to promoting the highest standards of skill, concept and draughtsmanship in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing.

Founded in 1823, the RBA was originally set up to rival the Royal Academy.

The society prides itself on exhibiting an eclectic mix of sculpture and paintings in all media.

Mall Galleries will showcase the final selection of works from the annual exhibition starting on February 20 until 29, from 10am until 5pm.

Entry will cost £5 but it will be free for those under 25.