“When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up. But now I’m a grown up, all I want to do is play.”Gabriella Leonardi, “The Art of a Damaged Soul: The One Woman Show Adaptation”
I felt so honoured to be asked by the incredibly talented Gabriella Leonardi for a bespoke jewellery set to wear to her bursary-winning Brighton Fringe show, The Art of a Damaged Soul: The One Woman Show Adaptation. I first met Gabriella at a market last December where she made my whole day with her generous words about my pieces, which was followed by great conversation and following each other on Insta.
Since then, I’ve read her poetry and upcoming novel, listened to her on Spotify, seen her model photos in my emails from a well-known brand, attended her International Women’s Day event where I networked with other amazing women in a safe space, and now, have watched her perform some of the most trying moments of her life on stage.
Gabriella requested a pink and blue birthday cake necklace with matching clip-on earrings. She wanted them to be fun, sparkly, and large enough that they would be visible on stage. I knew that faux leather would be the best option for this piece, as I would have much more flexibility over colour and scale than I would with resin.
I sketched out a general idea and fiddled around in Cricut Design Space and tried different images, colours, and sizes. It came down to this image in two different colourways:
I cut these two with my Cricut using faux leather for the solid base colour and heat transfer vinyl for the sparkly accents. In the end, I thought the pink cake with blue icing looked the best, so I sent a video of it through to Gabriella, who loved it! In the video I held it up against my ear so she could see the scale of it and the way it sparkled in the light. I also suggested adding bunting to the necklace portion to make it pop out a bit more and have more of a birthday party feel, and Gabriella agreed.
I was so excited to be able to watch Gabriella’s The Art of a Damaged Soul at Brighton Fringe. And what a breathtaking show it was. From the time I entered the room until the time I left, I was completely captivated. It was so immersive that I felt like I was her, feeling her feelings, reading her thoughts, and experiencing the traumas alongside her.
Knowing all the mental and physical anguish she has been battling in the last year while also preparing for the vulnerability of baring all for an audience is something that not many would be able to do. But telling her story was important to her journey and the messages it brought were so compelling that I’m absolutely sure it left an impact on every single person that sat in the audience – I know it did for me.
Every time I see her she has welcomed me with a smile and a hug and is one of the kindest, most genuine souls I’ve met. After watching her performance and learning more about her past, I feel even more honoured to have been commissioned for these pieces that she wore while telling her powerful story.
Brighton Fringe 2023 may be over, but I have a feeling this is just the beginning for Gabriella’s The Art of a Damaged Soul: The One Woman Show Adaptation. If you get the chance, go see it, because it will stay with you in ways you never would’ve thought possible. Go give her a follow to see what she’s working on at the moment.
In her words, “When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up. But now I’m a grown up, all I want to do is play.”
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