Quarantined cruise ship worker creates amazing outfits from paper bags


(CNN) – Australian dancer Ashleigh Perrie was delighted to start working aboard the MS Zaandam. The cruise ship was to travel through Antarctica – past penguins and sea lions – and continue to South America, while Perrie spent her days doing what she loved: playing.

But in mid-March, the Covid-19 pandemic caught up with the Holland America ship and the journey took an unexpected turn.

After a 60-day stay stuck at sea for several quarantines, ship-wide closures and outbreaks of coronavirus symptoms among hundreds of passengers and crew, Perrie finally disembarked in the Netherlands and made it to the long journey back to Australia by air.

Back in her hometown of Perth, Perrie was subjected to another mandatory quarantine in a hotel room for two weeks, without any physical interaction with the outside world.

To keep her mind active and engaged during this strange time, Perrie decided to get creative.

Each day, hotel staff delivered three daily meals in paper bags. In no time, she had accumulated a pile of them and an idea began to form.

Perrie made outfits out of paper bags.

“I’m generally a pretty creative person, I love doing art and I’ve studied art a bit – and obviously we have a lot to do with costumes and design in the theater industry and in the theater industry. dance scene – so I love doing tracks, ”Perrie, now back home, told CNN Travel.

“But I think only the paper bags that kept coming and going were really the inspiration.”

Creative process

Ashleigh Perrie made this amazing outfit with paper bags.

Courtesy of Ashleigh Perrie

First, Perrie had to gather enough bags to put together her intricate costumes.

“The first design that came to my mind was a dress, I wanted something very extravagant, very formal and as detailed as possible with the items I had,” she says.

“But the first one I ended up doing was the tutu, at the end, the” Sac-erina “as I called it, because I needed the bags to stay in shape for that one and for a lot. other costumes, I had to cut out the bags and use different shapes. “

Ashleigh Perrie Quarantine Suit (5)

Perrie got creative while quarantined in a hotel room.

Courtesy of Ashleigh Perrie

Along with the ballet costume, Perrie created a tennis-friendly outfit that included a racquet, tennis skirt, and visor she called “The Maria Paper-pova,” a runway-style outfit she named ” Queen Quarantina “and of course, the extravagant dress she had first envisioned, nicknamed” Origami Diva “.

She built the costumes using anything she could find – the paper bags, of course, plus towels, biodegradable containers, and disposable cutlery – and using just a pair of scissors, duct tape and a roll. of cotton. As the project developed, Perrie shared snapshots of her creations and small video clips of the process with her mom and sister.

Forties, Perrie says, wasn’t easy, but it was a fun, creative, and exciting distraction.

“It was hard after spending so long at sea, and obviously we had already done three quarantine periods on the ship,” she recalls.

“So coming back and having to deal with another two week quarantine and not being able to know you, finally kissing your family and friends at the airport when you arrived was mentally difficult, just thinking ‘Oh, that’s a bit of a disappointment to come home. ‘”

But Perrie said she also appreciated the time for herself to come to terms with the situation – and her artistic outlet made the time pass.

“It was time to relax, it was time for me to relax and take care of myself after everything I had been through,” she said.

Eye of the storm

Symptoms have spread, four guests aboard the ship have died and others have tested positive for the virus.

As the ports closed at Zaandam, Holland America deployed a second ship, the Rotterdam, to deliver relief and pick up healthy guests, but in the end both ships were infected.

Passengers finally disembarked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on April 2, but the crew were not cleared to leave. Instead, Holland America had to bring workers back across the Atlantic to the Netherlands.

“It was definitely a very difficult experience on board,” said Perrie, who exhibited symptoms of Covid.

“The whole ship was locked down, the company handled it in an incredible way – it was a very difficult situation that no one really has experience in managing. Our captain was brilliant. They did everything. that they could as fast as they could to stop the spread and make sure all the guests were safe. “

Perrie calls the experience “a real test of mental resilience.”

“We had a lot of faith in each other on board. Obviously you had to stay with your fellow crew and get out of the crisis. It was difficult, but it was a very, very strengthening experience, I think. “

At the end of May, the quarantine at Perrie’s hotel ended and she was finally reunited with her family.

Before leaving the hotel room, Perrie filmed herself modeling each of her creations – and did her best to pack some of them in her luggage.

She put a little in there, but she had to give up the majority for recycling.

When Perrie shared a video of her creations on Facebook, her elated friends and family started sharing it online and it quickly spread.

“I got great responses from everyone, just people who appreciate how creative it was and how amazing it was to be able to do it when you’re locked in a room for two weeks and you don’t have to do anything else, ”Perrie said.

Positive project

Ashleigh Perrie Quarantine Suit (8)

Perrie hopes his project will make people smile.

Courtesy of Ashleigh Perrie

Did the experience prevent Perrie from sailing for life?

No, she says, she loves that working on a cruise allows the crew to travel the world.

That said, Perrie is hopeful that the events of the past few months will prompt a reexamination of how the world is responding to a crisis at sea.

“The biggest problem we faced was that many countries were closing their borders and the cruise lines were trying to do all they could to get us home, and faced with the difficulty of not having to humanitarian aid to let us disembark, “Perrie said.

“So it would be interesting to see if from that experience something more positive can come out of it – and that maybe some policies can be put in place to deal with that sort of thing.”

In the meantime, Perrie is just happy that she made people smile during a difficult time.

“I think a lot of people see it as a positive part of the whole Covid pandemic and something good to look back on,” she says.

She has been contacted by different organizations interested in her work – from a museum and art gallery to an organization that works with women with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Plus, Perrie managed to grab a few paper bags she hadn’t made yet and put them in her case, so stay tuned for more potential creations in the weeks to come.



Ethel J. Montes

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