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Zest Festival commemorates Dutch arrivals in WA
On a June day 300 years ago, the Dutch trading ship, Zuytdorp, sank off the Western Australian coast near Kalbarri - and the event is being marked with a new and exciting festival aptly named Zest.
The Zest Festival will operate over five years, taking Kalbarri and nearby communities to the 400th anniversary of the landing of Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog, who had arrived safely in the Kalbarri/Shark Bay area in 1616 - 96 years before the sinking of the Zuytdorp.
The Zest Festival is co-organised by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE). Based at The University of Western Australia, the CHE's research aims to make a real difference in the lives of country West Australians by providing them with a glimpse of a significant collision between two worlds and igniting a new interpretation of history as well as a new look at the town's heritage.
"Our knowledge of this period in Dutch history can make an impact on country WA," said the CHE's Chief Investigator, Winthrop Professor Susan Broomhall. "It made a lot of sense for the CHE to contribute our knowledge of the history of emotions to the Zest Festival."
"The festival is triggering community enthusiasm and participation," said Festival Coordinator Rebecca Millar of the CHE. "For example, the Kalbarri Arts and Crafts Group is making a Zuytdorp quilt. Some of these women are older than 70 and working with other artists and discussing how they can use digital printing to reflect this significant event in a meaningful and modern way."
The Zest Festival will include a ‘Still Life/Our Life' exhibition exploring the life of the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries alongside life in Kalbarri today. Contemporary creative works by Kalbarri local artists that reflect the modern Australian life - domestic or exotic - will be exhibited in conjunction with images of Dutch still life paintings and Dutch 17th century objects from the Western Australian Museum's shipwreck collections.
A Chamber of Rhetoric (Dutch: rederijkerskamers) will also be featured "We are taking the essence of the Chambers of Rhetoric from Amsterdam, holding a storytelling event around a bonfire on the Saturday evening," Ms Millar said. "The Kalbarri District High School students with support from leading Indigenous actor Ningali Lawford-Wolf have written, directed and will perform a play about the Zuytdorp shipwreck and its survivors for the June 2012 Chamber of Rhetoric."
The Festival collaboration relates to the CHE's "Shaping the Modern" program which emphasises an understanding of modern Australia's emotional attachment to its past and to its European heritage.
Additional items on the Festival event list include a Trade Winds food and wine tastings, the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and a Welcome to Country by local Nanda Elders.
The CHE is working on The Zest Festival with the Kalbarri Development Association, the Shire of Northampton, the Kalbarri Visitor Centre and the WA Museum, and the Dutch Embassy. Kalbarri's annual Canoe and Cray Carnival will introduce the Zest Festival, beginning on 2-3 June 2012.
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