The writer has recently become the fortunate owner of this fine example of the work of the little known (as yet) artist Nicholas Ap-Adams. The writer has been aware of his existence for something like forty years and has closely followed his progress with great interest. However, it is only in the last fifteen years that Nicholas has produced works of this nature i.e in the minimalist cartoon style. (Cartoons should never be despised : the greatest of artists are known to have produced them). This typical example seems to have been dashed off on the back of an envelope which is entirely within character as his inspiration often comes to him with great suddenness and then he is liable to seize whatever materials that are to hand, in an attempt to get down his vision before it is lost. Inexplicably, with amazing regularity this burst of creativity always happens a few days prior to the Winter Solstice.
After studying in Oxford and London, NIcholas chose to make his place of abode a cottage in the Cardiff marshes fairly close to the grim Satanic towers of the notorious Grime Factory and perforce to earn his crust, he has found it necessary to somewhat prostitute his genius by working as a scientific scribe & illustrator. And there he is in esteemed company, for did not the great Leonardo have to do the very same some five hundred years previously? Happily Nicholas is able to shake off those restricting shackles twice annually to travel all the way to the distant Isle of Wight and it is there that presumably he studies the flight of various members of the Avian species and it is not surprising therefore that this has become his field of expertise.
Here it is believed that we are seeing a representation of Mercury, the winged messenger. The significance of the smaller bird is not clear but could it have been in Nicholas's mind that it was on its way to add to the foul deposits at the Grime Factory? However what is quite clear is that water is being crossed : is it the Bristol Channel or the Solent, or possibly even the Styx? His work frequently contains text, usually with similar wording to this one. Perhaps this should not be taken at face value : could there not be some encrypted meaning of greater significance? Also we do not know the nature of the message which Mercury is carrying in his satchel - he wears a fiendish but enigmatic smirk so it could be either sad or good news, news of the outbreak of war or news of peace.But it just could be something as mundane as a missive from the Inland Revenue or perhaps a gas bill. Or perhaps even a birthday card. So much information conveyed by so few strokes of the pen and those are undoubtedly of inverse proportion to the true import of the work! Brevity of style does little to eliminate conjecture so no doubt many long hours will be spent by those who believe that they can see into an artist's mind, burning much midnight oil in determination of the true meaning of whatever it is that may lie hidden here to us lesser mortals.