press: L.A Weekly

Tomorrow, London-based artist Leigh de Vries brings to the United States for the first time the work that has come to define her artistic career, with a screening of her film Exposure: Broken Reality Tunnel. The film is a revelation of her deepest, darkest secret.

Until she made the film, De Vries suffered in silence from body dysmorphia, a psychiatric illness similar to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), in which people misperceive defects in their appearance, disrupting their ability to function. A person with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) might compulsively check a mirror (or avoid mirrors altogether), become fixated with a blemish or a feature of their body, seek constant reassurance about their appearance or repeated cosmetic surgeries. Overall, they experience disturbing preoccupations or emotional distress like anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

Read full article here

Breaking Boundaries

On the 16th March, Leigh de Vries gave the Opening address at Breaking Boundaries: A Conference Set To Challenge And Inspire. 

Hosted by The West Midlands Museum Development team, Ironbridge and funded through Ironbridge’s Major Partner Museum and Museum Development programmes, this two day conference is an important conference for museums and galleries to build resilience by thinking beyond traditional boundaries in relation to collections, physical space, audiences and the workforce.

Learn more here -

UCLA Presents: Body Dysmorphic Disorder Explored

UCLA Presents: Body Dysmorphic Disorder Explored.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Explored at UCLA, March 2 by Noted Artist Leigh de Vries and BDD Research Program Director Dr. Jamie Feusner

Venue: UCLA, De Neve Auditorium
Date: March 2nd, 2017
Time: 6pm-9pm
Co-Programmed By: Active Minds & The Body Image Task Force

March 2, 2017 – Los Angeles, CA – As part of their Anorexia Awareness Week program, UCLA presents a very exciting and educational event, “MyBrokenReality - Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Eating Disorders,” that explores the intersection of art and science, bringing together international, multidisciplinary artist Leigh de Vries and leading body dysmorphic expert Dr.  Jamie Feusner, Professor-in-Residence in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, at the De Neve Auditorium on UCLA’s Westwood campus March 2 from 6-9pm.

Full press release here -

Please use this link to RSVP.
For media assistance please contact Susan von Seggern
T: + 1 213-840-0077.


Drew Podgorski's Journey with Spinal Stroke and Saebo

Witness the very brave story of artist, Drew Podgorski's journey who suffered a spinal stroke at 29 and how he uses the innovative rehabilitation products provided by Saebo. 


Saebo, Inc., is a leading global provider of innovative rehabilitation products for stroke survivors and other neurologically impaired individuals. Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, the company was founded in 2001 by two occupational therapists specializing in stroke rehabilitation. As the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S., stroke affects over 700,000 Americans every year, leaving many with crippling side affects including the loss of hand function. Saebos pioneering treatment protocols are based on new research documenting the brains remarkable ability to re-program itself following injury.

Love Is Louder, Art Exhibition

The exhibition showcases the artwork created for the Love is Louder and Our Voices Hate Crime Advocates projects.  These projects are helping to create confident and cohesive communities, spreading the message that Love is Louder than hate. They are supported by the Rotherham Together Partnership and the Safer Rotherham Partnership.

With Philip Padfield, Helen Goodson, Rachel Jayne Dickinson, Kirsty Adele, Che Williams, Leigh de Vries, Sharon Gill, Em Sharp, Angham Ahmed, Sarah Padfield, Rziah Asif, Noor Salih and Nichola Goodson.

Love is Louder Art Exhibition on Wednesday 27 July 2016 at the Coterie Gallery & Fine Art Studio, 7 Riverside Precinct (off Corporation Street) Rotherham, S60 1ND

BDD Awareness: Rush House, Rotherham

I was very honoured to be invited back to continue my work with Rush House, Rotherham working with young people looking at issues such as self image, self worth and body image. 

Rush House is a charitable organisation that works with homeless or inappropriately accommodated young people in Rotherham.

We explored the pressure of being a young person in todays society and how urgent the topic of self image and body image are. How our distorted perception of ourselves effects us on a daily basis.

It brought together conversations and learning experiences, to talk openly and honestly about BDD, to address anxiety for both the individual and the collective. 

Project Support from UCLA BDD Research Program

"When I first viewed this I literally experienced chills from how emotionally powerful and on-point it is. These are the voices of my patients over the past 12 years! The full video within the installation is longer and includes the spoken thoughts and feelings of several other people with BDD. 

Leigh de Vries has honed in on a particular experience of those with BDD that leads to tremendous suffering and isolation: the extreme difficulty that friends and family have in understanding and empathizing with people with BDD, due to the fact that they look entirely normal or even attractive to them. She has applied her wonderful creativity and her personal experience with suffering from BDD to create a powerful (almost virtual reality-like) experiential piece to address this."

- Jamie D. Feusner, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Director, Adult OCD Program, Director, Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphic Disorder Research Program, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

"How can others understand your experience with BDD? Show them this powerful and poignant video by Leigh de Vries"

Rotherham Ethnic Minority Alliance (REMA): Women Facing Racism Our Voice

I'm proud to be an artist affiliated with Rotherham Ethnic Minority Alliance (REMA): Women Facing Racism Our Voice on Saturday 19th March 10.30am - 1.30pm.

Rotherham Ethnic Minority Alliance (REMA) is doing amazing things to unify communities in Rotherham. They are working with the police to ensure that the hate crime that BAME and especially Muslim women experience in Rotherham on a DAILY basis is reported and acted upon.

REMA: Their mission “…is to support the development of voluntary and community action that is effective, sustainable and brings about positive social change for the BME Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector (VCFS) and communities”.

SYEDA: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week South Yorkshire Eating Disorders Association - SYEDA will be holding a number of awareness and fund raising events.

As part of the event on Friday, 26 February 2016 at 7.30pm I am delighted that I have been invited to be on a panel discussion with Q&A’s. 

Members of the panel are Chris Hood (CEO—Syeda), 
Maggie Young (Sheffield Eating Disorders Service) and
Leigh de Vries (International Artist).

South Yorkshire Eating Disorders Association is a regional charity that supports anyone affected by an eating disorder and their carers.

Tickets on sale for Private View @PlungeTheatre 26th February for Eating Disorders Awareness Week 

How to use the Arts to Engage Young People with Museums

This looks set to be an inspiring two day touring event looking at how museums could use art and artists to engage young people with their collections. Artist Leigh de Vries will open the event with her most recent work ‘My Broken Reality’ a video installation with follow up workshops and talks.

Leigh was supported by Grants for the Arts funding working with the Old Market Street Gallery, Rotherham “Exposure – The Broken Reality Tunnel of BDD” worked with groups of young people. 110 young people attended with 80 hours of engagement. “The success of the delivery of the piece was centred around public engagement and youth outreach programme and this was developed and delivered through participation, dialogue and the immersive experience”.

Other elements of the day are digital engagement, Arts Award and FE discussions around work placement and apprenticeships.

To book your ticket for the event please go here

Press: VICE

Read full article here >

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) – an anxiety disorder whereby sufferers have a distorted view of how they look – can manifest itself in myriad ways. The constant checking of appearance in a mirror – or the total avoidance of reflective surfaces; compulsive skin picking; seclusion; cosmetic surgery. These behaviours can shut sufferers off from the world and trap them in a cycle of fear and self-loathing. In the most extreme cases, BDD can lead to suicide.

Despite the odd celebrity confession, it's still a "new" condition in terms of understanding and public awareness. It was only recognised as being on the 'obsessive-compulsive spectrum' related to OCD in 2013. One in 100 people in the UK are thought to suffer from the disorder, although it is likely this number is higher. Experts in the field tend to agree that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), along with anti-anxiety meds are currently the recommended starting point for therapists and doctors to go about treating it. But there's also a "human problem-solving process" that's been with us a while longer: manifesting and facing our vexations through art.

Two artists taking the raw material of their fears and obsessions and turning them in photography, performance and film are Liz Atkin and Leigh de Vries.

I Underwent Cosmetic Surgery for My Body Dysmorphia... And I Wish I Hadn't

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness in which a person obsesses over the way he or she looks. In my case, my looks were the only thing that mattered to me. I had just moved to LA to become an actor and had very few, if any, friends. I'd sit alone in my apartment and take pictures of myself from every angle, analyzing every feature.

After a few years of doing this, one day I decided I had to get cosmetic surgery. "No one is allowed to be this ugly," I thought. "It's unacceptable."

In 2008, when I was 19 years old, I made my first appointment to meet with a cosmetic surgeon. I genuinely believed if I had one procedure I would suddenly look like Brad Pitt.

I told the doctor why I felt my face needed cosmetic surgery and told him I was an actor. He agreed that for my career it would be necessary to get cosmetic surgery. He quickly determined that large cheek implants would address the issues I had with my face, and a few weeks later I was on the operating table. He spoke with me before I went under, but he wasn't the same empathetic person I met with during the consultation. He was curt and uninterested in my worries, making small talk with his staff as I lost consciousness.

Read the full article here >

Art is a great leveller

Art is a great leveller and an artistic process seems to offer people ways into relating ideas that other modes of engagement don’t do so well. 

I would like to highlight the difference in understanding and empathy by comparing the comments between people that were able to visit the installation and their response in contrast to people that read about it in the tabloid news.

How can the arts support Health and Wellbeing?

Museum Development Yorkshire and Arts Council England invited Leigh de Vries to talk about the project ‘Exposure: My Broken Reality’ around the topic of ‘The Cultural Prescription – How can the arts support Health and Wellbeing?’ at The Hospitium, Museum Gardens, York on the 16th November.

The day revolved around questions like:
In a time of change, how can the arts support the Health and Wellbeing agenda? 
Can culture feed both body and soul, and if so, how?

The new National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing set the context within museums, illustrate current practice and explain future opportunities and events planned for 2016.

The day also included best practice examples from York Teaching Hospital, Leeds Museums and Galleries and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to stimulate and inspire. With particular focus on identifying and understanding funding opportunities. Subjects covered included how Cultural Commissioning can support Wellbeing projects, with a practical workshop in the afternoon focusing on Grants for the Arts, from both the funder and artist’s perspective.

Museum Development Yorkshire and Arts Council England have developed this event to combine expert overview with practical activities.

The Powerful work of Artist Liz Atkin

Liz Atkin is a visual artist based in London. Physicality underpins her creative practice with her skin as a primary source for corporeal artwork and imaginative transformation. Compulsive Skin Picking dominated her life for more than 20 years, but through a background in dance and theatre, she confronted the condition to harness creative repair and recovery. 

“I had no idea that was going to turn this disorder around… it was life changing…”

She creates intimate artworks, photographs and performances exploring the body-focused repetitive behaviour of skin picking. She has exhibited and performed in therapuetic settings, galleries and venues in the UK, Australia, USA and Japan. She aspires to de-stigmatise Compulsive Skin Picking and mental illness. She aims to raise awareness and advocate recovery through public talks, specialist commissions, residencies and exhibitions.

Find out more info about her recent Solo exhibitions at UCLA Medical Center & University of Southern California

"I was invited to exhibit my work in a solo show at UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles (26 Oct – 10 Jan) and University of Southern California (from Jan 2016). I visited Los Angeles in late October 2015 to speak to medical students and staff at both sites about my lived experience of Compulsive Skin Picking, my artwork and recovery."

The trip helped deepen my understanding of diagnosis, treatment, and new research. My art practice will be enhanced by these new encounters, and it is my intention to continue advocacy to help those who might currently be suffering, as well and continuing to raise the profile of this disorder to health professionals and others.

Follow the project here

Liz Atkin
Visual Artist and Creative Practitioner