Unveiling a show-stopping art exhibit by young people living with arthritis 

18 March 2024
Group of smiling young people wearing Versus Arthritis t-shirts at the Joint Creativity art exhibit

Colourful embroidery hoop which reads 'Keep Going'

Art can be relaxing, therapeutic and fun. But we know that it can also be a powerful way to connect with others and express what you’re going through.

That's why we launched Joint Creativity, an art programme in Scotland for 10–18-year-olds living with arthritis and other related conditions.

Every year, young people roll up their sleeves and paint, sculpt, and create some show-stopping artwork — and we showcase their masterpieces in a one-of-a-kind art exhibit in Scotland.

Now to celebrate ten years of Joint Creativity, we’ve invited young people across England, Northern Ireland and Wales to submit their amazing art too.

Want an exclusive look at this year’s art exhibit? Join us as we explore the stories behind the artwork and learn more about Joint Creativity.

Learn more about how we support young people


What is Joint Creativity?

Three young people standing in front of artwork wearing Versus Arthritis jumpers“Joint Creativity is an arts programme delivering art workshops, publications, podcasts, sketchbooks and an annual public exhibition in Scotland,” explains Clare Hyatt, Young People and Families Artistic Lead.

The best part is you don’t have to be a creative whizz to get involved.

At its heart, Joint Creativity is all about giving you the chance to express yourself and meet other young people who understand what it’s like to live with a long-term condition.

Laura lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), a type of arthritis that starts before age 16 years. It happens when the immune system, which is the body’s natural self-defence system, attacks the body. This causes many symptoms including painful, stiff and swollen joints.

Laura has been involved in Joint Creativity as a volunteer since the very start 10 years ago.

“It's such a unique situation where you can meet other people who absolutely understand what it's like living as a young person with arthritis. That peer support is simply magical”

Laura, who lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

“Having the opportunity to be creative is really precious to me,” she says. “I love to make cards and sew, paint and generally try anything crafty, but life and work often gets in the way.

“Having that time to be creative helps you to slow down, forget about your worries and enjoy making something. The best thing about crafting for me is that it either makes me forget that I am sore, or I'm enjoying myself so much that I don't mind being sore afterwards!

Learn more about how we support young people


Behind the curtain of the art exhibit: ‘Joint Creativity: 10 Years in the Baking’

Three handmade cake sculptures in an art exhibit

Every year, Joint Creativity’s art exhibit has a theme — and this year it’s baking.

For that reason, we've called the art exhibit Joint Creativity: 10 Years in the Baking’. 

So, what’s it all about?

“With this project we are creating a collaborative art installation at our upcoming exhibition in Glasgow, bringing together young people from across the UK and empowering them to communicate experiences of living with invisible conditions,” says Clare.

“We’re hoping to spread the message that young people get arthritis too and to never assume anything just because someone appears to look ‘healthy’”.

Clare Hyatt, Young People and Families Artistic Lead

Laura says that people often tell her “how powerful the exhibitions have been”.

“It’s given them a whole new understanding of some of the challenges faced by young people with arthritis and related conditions,” she adds.

“The main thing I have taken from every exhibition is pride - it makes me so happy and proud to see our participants work being displayed to the whole world. We work with an amazing group of young people and their achievements deserve to be celebrated.”

Can I see the art exhibit?

Anyone can come visit the exhibit in-person.

What kind of art can you expect to find in this year’s exhibit?

“As well as a timeline of art looking back at the last decade, we have artwork ranging from giant cardboard bagels to self-recipes, medical bakes and caked canvases,” explains Clare.

“We also have lots of spoons, both clay and wooden.”

Why is there spoon art?

Wooden spoons decorated in colourful illustrations using markersAt a recent Joint Creativity Art Camp, young people created 76 spoons, decorating them in vibrant patterns and splashes of colour.

This sparked the idea to create art about Spoon Theory for this year’s exhibit.

Spoon Theory is a visual way to explain to friends and family what it’s like to live with a chronic condition.

“The idea is that each spoon represents a unit of energy and that these are spent as needed on things like getting dressed, taking medicines, studying, chatting with friends and taking part in hobbies,” explains Clare.

“Decorating my clay spoon was a bit of a challenge, I love making small things but it's quite tricky for my hands,” says Laura. “Seeing the end result reminded me that perseverance pays off and challenging yourself to do something different is really rewarding.”

Learn more about spoon theory


Steph’s story: Being creative and living with a chronic condition

Three people looking at colourful artworkSteph, 21, lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and uveitis. Uveitis is a form of eye inflammation (swelling) that’s often linked with JIA, which can lead to sight loss.

Fatigue is the main [symptom] for me,” explains Steph. “I’m always tired, no matter how much I sleep,” she explains.

Steph has taken part in our art project over the past 10 years and says that “being creative at Joint Creativity definitely gave me a break, time to see people, have fun.”

“I think making art and having a task to work on together made it a lot easier to talk,” she adds.

“I was never the most artistic, so I was really there to just see everyone. You always get to try new things. I would have never made a plaster mould of my hand anywhere else!”

This year’s art exhibit will showcase Joint Creativity’s art from the past decade too.

“I particularly loved the ‘Under the Microscope’ exhibit we did in 2018,” remembers Steph. “I really enjoyed that year: the microscope slides, the petri dishes and needle felted cells.

“Those art workshops kind of inspired me and that’s what I’m doing now, studying for a degree in Microbiology.... I guess you could say Versus Arthritis helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life.”

Steph who lives with JIA