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Zest Festival 2015 Taste & Desire: The Power of the Beautiful

Chamber Of Rhetoric 2014 Bonfire And Performance

Date: Saturday 19 to Sunday 20 September 2015
Venue: Kalbarri, Western Australia
Further information: Zest Festival website

Preparations for this year’s Kalbarri Zest Festival are in full swing as the town prepares to experience the allure of the Orient on 19 and 20 September 2015.

This year’s Zest Festival focuses on the cultures of China and Japan in the fourth year of a five-year festival commemorating the 300th anniversary of the sinking of the Dutch East India merchant ship the Zuytdorp on the cliffs north of Kalbarri.

The festival will bring together entertainment, art, music, theatre, puppetry, games, cultural activities and foods in a two-day celebration of culture open to locals and visitors alike.

Zest Festival director Rebecca Millar said this year’s activities would tie in with the theme Taste and Desire: The Power of the Beautiful.

“This year will focus on the human desire for new and beautiful things and the emotions surrounding them,” Ms Millar said.

“We will explore the role of tea ceremonies, origami arts, bonsai, and the crafting of fine objects and how the history of Dutch trade of these objects influenced the aesthetics and desires of Europe.”

As in previous years, a weekend highlight promises to be the Chamber of Rhetoric performance, held in the glow of a giant bonfire at Chinamen’s Beach, on the banks of the Murchison River.

Under Kalbarri night skies, participants will experience the dramatic enactment of the court of a shogun. The theatrical performance incorporating large-scale puppetry, music, acting and dance, will tell the story of this shogun, his beautiful wife, loyal samurai and court officials and the impact of European visitation.

Ms Millar is also excited about this year’s exhibition, in which people will be encouraged to put forward items they deem powerful and beautiful and tell the story behind them for show alongside projected images of Asian artefacts.

“The exhibition will explore the power of objects and teach us about the imperial collections of Chinese Emperors and Japanese Shoguns in the 17th and 18th century and the impact traded exotic Asian artefacts had on the tastes and desires of Europeans,” she said.

Interested people can also learn the art of making theatre masks, or flying box kites. They may learn tea ceremonies, try origami, read calligraphy, learn sand sculpting or read poetry written in the lead up to the festival under the guidance of a professional poet. 

They can also visit a tea house on the Kalbarri foreshore to experience ‘the way of tea’. The tea house will be designed by Kalbarri architectural student Jaren Malton, who will work with Kalbarri’s Men Shed to construct his design.

Kalbarri school students will again be a big part of the festival, as will the ever popular Trade Winds Tasting Tent, where Voyager Estate Winery is offering culinary dishes inspired by Japan and China.

“It will be a gourmet experience and patrons will learn about the VOC spice trade and the influences of culture on food,” Ms Millar said.

“People can try tasting plates and enjoy the atmosphere and music along the banks of the magnificent Murchison River.”

CHE supports the Zest Festival each year with with historical research, education resources, marketing and school workshops.

Image: Chamber of Rhetoric at Zest Festival 2014. Photograph by Samille Mitchell