(CNN) – Australian dancer Ashleigh Perrie very happy to start working on the MS Zaandam board. The cruise will travel through Antarctica – past penguins and sea lions – and then on to South America, while Perrie spends her days doing what she likes: performing.
But in mid-March, the Covid-19 pandemic overtook Holland America and its journey changed unexpectedly.
After serving for 60 days at sea, surviving in several quarantines, locking all over the ship and the spread of coronavirus symptoms among hundreds of passengers and crew, Perrie finally disembarked in the Netherlands and made a long journey back to Australia, by air.
Returning to his hometown, Perth, Perrie was subjected to other mandatory quarantines in his hotel room for two weeks, without physical interaction with the outside world.
To make his mind active and involved during this strange time, Perrie decided to be creative.
Every day, hotel staff send three times a day in paper bags. Before long, he gathered his stack, and an idea began to form.
Perrie will make clothes from paper bags.
“I’m usually a fairly creative person, I like art and I study art a little – and obviously we have a lot of things related to costumes and design in the theater industry and in the dance scene – so I really like to make pieces,” Perrie, now returned home, told CNN Travel.
“But I think only paper bags that keep coming and coming are truly inspirational.”
Ashleigh Perrie makes these fabulous clothes from paper bags.
Courtesy of Ashleigh Perrie
First, Perrie needs to collect enough bags to put together his intricate costumes.
“The first design that popped into my head was a dress, I wanted something very luxurious, very formal, and as detailed as I could get with the items I had,” he said.
“But the first thing I finally made was a tutu, in the end,” Bag-erina “as I called it, because I needed a bag to stay in shape for one and for many other costumes, I had to cut the bag and use a different shape. “
Perrie becomes creative when quarantined in a hotel room.
Courtesy of Ashleigh Perrie
Along with ballet costumes, Perrie created a suitable tennis outfit that included a racket, tennis skirt and visor which she called “The Maria Paper-pova”, a catwalk style she called “Queen Quarantina” and of course, her luxurious dress. he first imagined, nicknamed “Origami Diva.”
He makes costumes using whatever he can get – paper bags, of course, plus napkins, biodegradable containers and disposable cutlery – and only uses scissors, sticky tape and cotton rolls. When the project came together, Perrie shared photos of her creations and small video clips of the process with her mother and sister.
Quarantine, said Perrie, is not easy, but it is a fun, creative and exciting interlude.
“It was difficult after being at sea for so long, and obviously we have carried out three quarantine periods on the ship,” he recalls.
“So then come back and have to face quarantine in two weeks and can’t know, finally hugging your family and friends at the airport when you arrive is very difficult mentally, just thinking ‘Oh, that’s a bit of disappointment coming home.'”
But Perrie said he also values time for himself to make peace with the situation – and his artistic outlet makes time pass.
“It’s time to rest, it’s time for me to relax and look after myself after everything I’ve been through,” he said.
Symptoms spread, four guests on the ship died, and others tested positive for the virus.
When the port closed their doors to Zaandam, Holland America deployed a second ship, Rotterdam, to offer help and pick up healthy guests, but in the end both ships became infected.
Passengers finally got off at Fort Lauderdale in Florida on April 2, but the crew was not allowed to leave. In contrast, Holland America must transport workers back across the Atlantic to the Netherlands.
“It was really a very challenging experience,” said Perrie, who came with symptoms of Covid.
“The entire ship was locked, the company handled it extraordinarily – it was a very difficult situation that no one really had experience in dealing with. Our captain was brilliant. They did everything they could as quickly as possible to stop spreading and to ensure all guests remained safe. “
Perrie called the experience “a real test of mental endurance.”
“We have a lot of trust in each other, on the boat. Obviously, you have to stay with your colleagues and get each other through a crisis. It was difficult, but it was a very, very strengthening experience of character, I think.”
At the end of May, the Perrie hotel quarantine ended and he finally met his family again.
Before he left the hotel room, Perrie filmed himself modeling each of his creations – and tried his best to package some of them in his suitcase.
He squeezed some in there, but he had to leave the majority to be recycled.
When Perrie shared her creation videos on Facebook, happy friends and family began sharing them online and soon spread.
“I have received extraordinary responses from everyone, only people who appreciate how creative it is and how amazing it can be to do that when you are locked in the room for two weeks and you have nothing else to do,” Perrie said.
Perrie hopes the project will make people smile.
Courtesy of Ashleigh Perrie
Does that experience make Perrie no longer want to sail?
No, he said, he likes how working on a cruise ship allows the crew to travel around the world.
That said, Perrie hopes that the events of the past few months will bring a re-examination of how the world reacts to the crisis at sea.
“The biggest problem we face is that many countries are closing their borders, and shipping companies are trying to do everything they can to bring us home, and only face difficulties not having humanitarian assistance to let us down,” Perrie said.
“So, it will be interesting to see if, from this experience, something more positive can come out of it – and maybe some policies can be implemented to deal with such things.”
Meanwhile, Perrie only likes to smile on people’s faces during difficult times.
“I think many people see it as positive in the entire Covid pandemic and something pleasant to look at again,” he said.
He has been contacted by various organizations interested in his work – from museums and art galleries, to an organization that works with women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
In addition, Perrie managed to get several paper bags that have not been transformed and put into her case, so stay tuned for more potential creations in the coming weeks.