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New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States to Visit Asheville

New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States will visit Asheville on Friday and Saturday, November 30 and December 1. Ambassador Roy Ferguson and his wife Dawn will be guests of John Cram, owner of Blue Spiral 1 gallery, who invited them to view Robert Johnson’s New Zealand, an exhibition of paintings based on Johnson’s three-month “pilgrimage” to New Zealand earlier this year.

Highlighting the two-day visit, Ambassador and Mrs. Ferguson will be guests of honor at a Black Tie Optional VIP reception at Blue Spiral 1 gallery, where Robert Johnson’s New Zealand is being exhibited. They will also attend a “friends of New Zealand” dinner gathering, visit Biltmore Village and tour Biltmore, courtesy of the Estate. The Ambassador and Mrs. Ferguson will stay at Haywood Park Hotel as guests of hotel owner Tony Fraga.

“We are excited that the Ambassador and Mrs. Ferguson accepted our invitation to come to Asheville and are honored that they will be on hand during the Robert Johnson’s New Zealand exhibition,” Cram said. “It’s a tribute to the quality of Robert’s work and a compliment to the attractiveness of Asheville as a travel destination.”

About the Ambassador:

Roy Ferguson, a career diplomat, is New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States, serving in that capacity since February 2006. Prior to that, he was Director of the Americas Division in New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 2002-2005 and was on the Boards of the New Zealand-United States Council, Fulbright New Zealand, the Ian Axford Fellowships and the New Zealand Centre for Latin American Studies. He previously served in Washington as the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission between 1991 and 1995. From 1999-2002 he served as New Zealand’s Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. That same year, he also became New Zealand’s Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Korea. He has also served in Manila and Canberra.

Ambassador Ferguson was educated at the University of Canterbury where he received an MA in History and Political Science. He was awarded the Canterbury Fellowship and a Fulbright Travel Grant, which enabled him to study at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from U Penn with an MA in International Relations. More recently, he completed the Advanced Management Programme at the Harvard Business School in 1998.

About Robert Johnson’s New Zealand:

Robert Johnson has traveled to some of the Americas’ most exotic and scenic locations to study and subsequently paint his signature landscapes, which are what he calls “collages,” or collected images gathered into unique landscapes. Johnson traveled to eleven places in New Zealand, where he camped and backpacked much of the time. He spent extended periods of time in each location, drawing one day and applying watercolor to his sketches the next.

“New Zealand is one of the most beautiful and dramatic places I’ve visited,” Johnson said. “It drifted south after the continents separated and developed its own ecosystem, so now it has primitive forests, 150 varieties of ferns, colorful berries, and unique bird species found only there and in Chile. I made extensive use of these in my paintings, along with the spiral design used in traditional Maori craft, honoring the indigenous culture that goes back nearly 1,000 years. I was told that the spiral comes from the Maori interpretation of the fiddleback fern, although it’s a repeating pattern in nature as well as an ancient symbol,” Johnson said.

Robert Johnson’s New Zealand is at Blue Spiral 1 gallery through December 29. The exhibition includes five large (48” X 64”) and six medium (30” X 40”) paintings on canvas, 10 small scale (11” X 15”) paintings on paper and 49 watercolor/pencil studies from his notebook.

Blue Spiral 1, located at 38 Biltmore Avenue, one block south of Pack Square in downtown Asheville, is a 14,000 square foot gallery specializing in Southeastern fine art and craft. Gallery hours during the Johnson exhibition are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday.

(Images provided by Robert Johnson’s New Zealand.)

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