Children get the ART our of ARTHritis

Children get the ART our of ARTHritis

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of judging some excellent art by children living with Ideopathic Juvenile Arthritis. This took place at the Nuffield Hospital in Oxford, and was organised (superbly) by Anne Gilbert of NRAS.

It's hard to do a lot of things with RA. One of the hardest was judging the paintings! They were all asked to depict their response to their condition. Winning pictures included a wonderful dolphin representing a nurse communicating with a teddy bear (the painter/patient). There was also a very finely executed abstract 3D work representing the spikes and tangles of arthritic pain, and a interestingly ambiguous painting of a girl standing in water, with her back turned to the viewer. I wasn't asked to name a Best in Show, but if I had it would have been this work by 10 year old Ariane. I love the way she has the clinical stuff like blood tests and scans in the background, and in front of this a joyous figure celebrating remission.

There is another area competition on Saturday 5th December, for young people being treated in the Bristol area. I had hoped to introduce NRAS to a local artist to do the judging there, but the ones I know are already committed or uncontactable. If any of you know of an artist in or near Bristol who might be willing to volunteer as a judge (it is only takes a couple of hours) do please either let me know, or direct them to Anne Gilbert at NRAS. It might be preferable if the artist had RA, or some other auto-immune disease, but it isn't essential. They could always be briefed.


14 Replies

  • Hi Jora

    Sorry I have no connections. Sounds wonderful.

    How are you?


  • Ah thank you, Kiki. I'm just about to send you a PM. J

  • Well done Jo for getting involved in something so meaningful and inspirational. I love the image you've represented here - shame it has to be judged at all in someways but I guess it's a competitive world we live in and competitions beverage more interest and publicity. X

  • Beverage?! Leverage?

    Yes, I almost spent more time talking about the non-winners in each group, than the winners! I'm always one for backing the underdog. But they all got prizes and were all exhibited. No-one was "voted off"! Jo x

  • Hi, I really love that picture you have shown!

    It would be wonderful if someone could make a collection of juveniles art work in relation to their illnesses.

    I think young folk often show such a basic raw insight into things that we as adults have lost touch with, maybe they could help us rekindle it.

    Thanks for posting it Jo!


  • My pleasure. I think NRAS might make cards from one or more of them. Several of the entrants had lots of writing on their pictures, as if they found it hard to express their JIA in pictures alone. My theory is that today we live in a visually polluted world and that children can become so saturated by images that insights aren't given much space. I don't know if that makes sense. Perhaps I should draw what I mean!


  • Thanks for telling us about this. I was wondering where it was all happening. The idea of cards is great and would give the artists some recognition.

  • Yes, but I'm not getting involved with the production of the cards.

    I'm having enough problem in getting my own printed in time for my open studio next week. Eeeeek!

  • Quite right! Is it open studio time again? I hope you're well enough to find it fulfilling.

  • I agree that younger people have an insight that I think, we adults, just mask with words. I find it easier to talk about how I'm feeling rather than express it via art.

    What talented young people. I am in awe. :)

  • Lovely. Not that they have JIA of course, but that they get recognition for expressing how they feel about it. And if the images are as good as the one you've put up they would make much improved cards for NRAS. (I'd love to get NRAS Christmas cards, but find the style of the current ones is just not for me)

  • I have to say that they weren't all of this standard. They all had charm ( I really liked the dolphin nurse with the teddy bear patient), but most wouldn't reproduce very well, especially with microscopic writing.

    I'll be selling some of my latest cards for the benefit of NRAS, but need to wait for delivery from printers and to do some sums before I post anything here. Anyway, they won't be everyone's cup of tea, either .


  • My sister brought me one of your cards from your last day, which I liked enormously. Maybe one day I'll actually be around on one of your open days so I can see for myself.

  • I remember her visit well. Unfortunately, it was at a particularly busy time, so we couldn't have much of a chat.


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