The Mexico Chapters: Crimes, Hopes, Bodies & Souls

Photos © Lizzie Ridout, 2007

Mexicans know how to do guilt and supplication in style, and with fervour. I sort of admire it. I'm half envious that I don't have a similar outlet. If with every woe in my life I could go and buy a small metal cast in the shape of a heart, an arm, a leg, a stomach, a child, a pair of hands, an eye, whatever almost, for just a few a pence, and place it - and all the accordant crimes or hopes - on the alter of my chosen saint, I think I could cast off quite a few pangs of conscience, quite a few frets.

However, I'm not entirely satisfied with the commercial limbs available for sale in the churches in Mexico. I bought a whole load, but they're a little cheap, a little glossy for my liking. The ones above were photographed in a church right in the heart of Mexico City But I was trying to dodge the eyes of frowning believers, and as a non-believer with an exaggerated sense of guilt when it comes to causing offense, the whole photography thing didn't sit too easily with me. Hence the extremely bad quality of the last few. The glass didn't help either. But these at least have a sense of patina. Unlike my own, which still glimmer unashamedly from their plastic bag 10 months on.

Personally, for me this is all about labour. Get rid of guilt through effort and time, repetitive tasks, making, thinking, more making, words, marks, drawings, lists. Just make more. And keep adding more graphite layers. So metal trinkets don't quite go the full mile. And each fear, each wish is so personal it's not enough to apply them to something mass-produced. It's about carving each sodding groove yourself and suffering with it… Otherwise what's the point? That's the penance, or the love.

I could begin making my own compunction-carvings for all things major and minor. But out of paper. Can manipulate it better. But the list is endless…

Today alone:

Feel bad that this morning I didn't take the time to pick up a worm on the pavement and flick it onto the grass. Usually I do, but this time I was running late and had to kick off a day of assessments.

Should have pulled over when I saw a guy laid up by the side of the road this evening, on my way to see big waves and high winds in Porthleven. But the other man who seemed to be helping shook his head and mouthed 'I've sorted it' when I gesticulated through the window with my mobile phone. So I drove on. But I should have made absolutely certain there was nothing I could do.

Should use handkerchiefs. Always.