Father’s Prayer, Margate
The harbour wall in Margate extends out into the bay from the Turner Contemporary Gallery. Wandering
along the walkway after a visit to the gallery, I spotted two small medallions – each about 30mm diameter – fixed to the wall.
They had clearly been there for some time. The sea air had corroded them making it difficult to read the lettering and the surrounding wall was covered with the accretions of time.
My first thought was they must be part of an artwork associated with the gallery so I wandered back along the sea wall looking for more. Nothing. I could not find even the residual cirular indentation where one might have been removed.
I went back to the medallions. Fortunately, the setting sun cast a raking light across the face of the lettering allowing me to decipher the words. The first read: “A father like you is hard to find – one who’s honest, strong, wise and kind.” The second: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
This combination of texts played on my mind as I drove home; I looked them up as soon as I got back. The first is known as the Father's Prayer, the second is the Serenity Prayer which is an important part of the Alcoholics Anonymous twelve-step programme.
These two small discs of pewter are not rare or expensive, they are not exquisite pieces of craftsmanship. But the story implied by the combination of their words, their isolated, exposed position and degraded state had an unforgettable and profound depth and poignancy.