Aziza Boudhina

I was born and grew up in Tunisia to an English mother and a Tunisian father. At birth I was named Feriel, today I’m known as Aziza. I have one sister who lives with my mum in Tunisia.  

Growing up in Sousse I was blessed by a lot of sunshine, clear blue skies, living by a white sandy beach and the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea. In August every year my mum, sister and I came to England for a month to stay with my English family.  I was in Awe of the lush green fields, and striking green lawns, which we don’t have much of in Tunisia. I live in England now, to this day, still every time I leave my house I delight in the green scenery and pretty colourful flowers. 

I can see a lot of these influences coming out in my art. I remember my first ever painting at Centrepieces was of a blue sky, white washed house with a pink bougainvillea tree on top of a green hill with lots wild white daisies. It was my first ever painting workshop, the tutor explained roughly what we had to do and just asked us to paint anything we liked. I was terrified, I thought I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to paint then I suppose I felt I had to do it so I took the plunge and just went for it. I was very happy with the result and couldn’t believe what I had just created.

This is one of the few examples of what Centrepieces is all about: Centerpieces have shown me that I am able to draw when I believed I couldn’t. They’ve shown me I could paint and create beautiful art.

The tutors at Centerpieces have helped me discover the creativity inside of me using less direction and more improvisation. They taught me to let go and go with the flow and develop my own style and techniques. I have had a few happy accidents, I love those when they happen. 

Engaging with the workshop have also helped me work through some strong emotions like post traumatic stress and anxiety. 

Yes it’s been a journey, I have found that art is not always easy. It’s brought alot of things up. I came face to face with my demons: the life-long held crippling beliefs “I don’t know what to do”, “I don’t know how to do it”, “I don’t know what to choose”, “I can’t”, which brought more demons up: Fear, Indecisiveness, Anxiety, Panic and in some instances Depression. 

Another demon I came face to face with and had to really work hard on releasing before I could move forward is the Killer Unrealistic expectation of Perfectionism. 

I decided to take a one year break from art then I came back in January during the Third lockdown with a completely new attitude. 

No Perfectionism, take time to learn, allow yourself to play, experiment, make very imperfect Art and enjoy the process. Enjoy being with a lovely group of people kind, understanding, supportive and very very creative. Amazing! 

Coming back to Centrepieces was a life saviour. It helped me stay sane and go through the harsh last period of lockdown. I’ve created loads of different new pieces, exhibited loads of work at the Mental Health Awareness Week Exhibition and sold my first painting ever Yay. 

Thank you for believing in me Centrepieces. Thank you for the fun sessions and chats and camaraderie. Thank you for all the organisation and work to create a safe place for me and my fellows challenged with Mental illness to come and recover together through Art.