The Painting Prophet; Renowned as a Musician with Platinum-Selling Welsh Rockers Lostprophets, Keyboard Player Jamie Oliver Is Now Making Giant Strides in the Welsh Art World, as Dave Owens Discovered

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Byline: Dave Owens

THIS year's shortlist for the Welsh Artist of the Year 2012 Award threw up an interesting array of names.

The list of notables included six former Gold Medal winners at the National Eisteddfod and the founder of Wales' first Welsh language rap band - Llwybr Llaethog.

Add to that list maybe the most unexpected addition - Richard J Oliver, otherwise known as Jamie Oliver the globetrotting international star with Welsh rock giants Lostprophets, and you have quite the diverse line-up.

Those familiar with the Valleys band, who recently released their new album Weapons and played a sold-out show at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, will be well aware of the keyboard player's artistic streak.

He's been painting for years - well before the band were formed back in the early '90s.

"I have always tried to keep my painting and my music separate," says Jamie. "I have never wished to take advantage of the reputation of the band to fast track my art. I was painting and had a number of solo exhibitions in very reputable galleries many years before Lostprophets had formed, and I want my art to be judged purely on the strength of the work itself."

In terms of content, the musician admits his work has in a round about way, mirrored the essence of his band's music.

"My work was a response to the difficulty of self identification in a post industrial Wales," he muses.

"It reflected the problem of self value and worth in a country where every corner and horizon echoed the past yet every TV and computer pointed forward.

"The youth of my generation were born into the void left over in a post industrial country and patriotic pride was hard to come by.

"So even though my images were not relevant to the lyrical and musical content of Lostprophets, the core inspiration was - for example, the drive to achieve, stepping above and beyond, waking up to your own potential, and doing something with your life were all Lostprophets anthem calls.

"My work didn't directly or visually represent the underground hardcore metal scene of the day but it was born out of the same rebellion against complacency and apathy that was common in the culture in which I was raised."

Born in Pontypridd, the 36-year-old, holds an honorary degree in Fine Art from the University Of West England and a Masters in Fine Art from Cardiff Metropolitan University.

His solo exhibitions include the Museum of Modern Art, Wales, Attic Gallery, Swansea and Rhondda Heritage Park.

His work was most recently exhibited at La Luz de Jesus Gallery and The Known Gallery in Los Angeles, where he lives. …