The Mystery Arts Box Project: A qualitative exploration of the experiences, benefits, and challenges of participating in a remotely delivered art and craft project for British veterans with visual impairment
journal contributionposted on 2023-08-30, 20:09 authored by Hilary Engward, Thoams Kersey, Claire Castle
Introduction The clinical application of the arts among military personnel and veterans has been well documented, particularly in relation to service-related mental health difficulties. However, the impacts of engaging recreationally with art activities on general well-being remain underexplored and even more so among those living with visual impairment (VI). This pilot explored the artistic experiences of veterans with VI participating in a remotely delivered art and craft project during continued COVID-19 restrictions in Spring/Summer 2021. Methods Six participants received a mystery arts box (MAB) containing a selection of materials, collated to encourage experimentation with unfamiliar techniques. Participants were asked to journal their process as they developed a final piece/pieces. They were invited to join group video calls to share work and ideas and seek guidance. Semistructured interviews were run with participants at the end of the project. Journal and interview data were thematically analysed. Results Analysis identified 11 themes relating to initial and ongoing responses to the MAB and creative and journalling process. Several benefits were identified, including artistic learning, trying something new, and social, cognitive and emotional experiences. The value of the activity to participants’ lives within the context of the ongoing pandemic was also considered. Challenges were associated with the use of unfamiliar materials, impacts of sight loss and the limitations of remote delivery. Conclusion This pilot brings to the fore the everyday artistic experience of veterans living with VI and considers the benefits, challenges and well-being implications of a remotely delivered arts activity. Findings illustrate the importance of ensuring accessibility of artistic activities to those for whom disability might limit participation and highlight the ongoing role that remotely delivered arts activities might play in meeting the social and recreational needs of individuals beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Publication titleBMJ Military Health
- Accepted version