I have been 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 will visit Los Angeles in late October to speak to medical students and staff at both sites about my lived experience of Compulsive Skin Picking, my artwork and recovery. I am also liaising with key psychodermatologists in San Francisco and may fly to speak there too. These invitations came too late for me to apply for UK Arts funding to support a trip of this kind, so I raised money independently on a Kickstarter which was very successful!
I will also take the opportunity to significantly augment my knowledge meeting health professionals and experts treating Compulsive Skin Picking based in Los Angeles at treatment centres such as Trichotillomania Treatment Centre, OCD Los Angeles and UCLA Hospital. I have been making health contacts there over many years, but this trip will enable me to meet them.
The trip will deepen my understanding of diagnosis, treatment, and new research. My art practice will be enhanced by these new encounters and I intend to return to the UK to continue as an advocate and to create new artwork. Every time I speak out about this illness and my own experience I am spreading an informed message, and hope to help those who might currently be suffering, as well and continuing to raise the profile of this disorder to health professionals and others.
University of Southern California will also film an interview of me talking about my lived experience and recovery as an advocate for mental health and art.