The history of Bali is dotted with foreigners who spent time here and somehow made a difference.
One of those people was Belgian artist Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres (1880-1958). He arrived in Bali in 1932 and lived in the village of Klandis close to Denpasar. While living there he met a local Balinese dancer named Ni Pollok who was a famous legong dancer and considered the best in Bali.
Ni Pollok was very beautiful and Le Mayeur offered a her a gig as his model. Though she was still a teenager they were married in 1935 and both moved to a house in Sanur where he painted portraits of her.
I rode down the Bypass to Sanur and after taking the Jl. Hang Tuah ( Plaza hotel ) turn off to the right and parking at the beach I hit a warung for some quick nasi goreng. This part of Bali is popular with German and Dutch tourists and seems a lower key place than the madhouse of Kuta, in fact riding around I noticed shady lanes and large sections of land still undeveloped.
The house of Le Mayeur and Ni Pollok is now a museum featuring some of his painting of her as well as European pieces. It is located about 30 meters to the right of the parking area at the end of Jl. Hang Tuah. My Rough Guide said the museum was open from Sun-Fri 8am-4pm ( donation). Arriving at 2.50pm I was told the place was already closed and that the Sunday closing time was 3pm. So unfortunately I didn’t get to see any of the artwork but look forward to on another occasion.
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On the front of the central entrance are some lovely carving decorations.
During WWII Le Mayeur continued living in the house and although the place was ransacked still managed to keep the paintings. Wartime shortages meant he had to use sack cloth instead of canvas.
From what I can gather the collection doesn’t include as many paintings of Ni Pollok as you might expect, although there are paintings of other Balinese ladies. Charcoal and crayon sketches are also included.
When Le Mayeur died he left the house and his art collection to Ni Pollok with an agreement that she would eventually pass it on to the Indonesian government. Ni Pollok passed away in 1985 and the house became the Museum Le Mayeur.
The museum really feels like a house from the grounds and I wandered around the back to see locals cleaning their pots and doing chores.
For a quick bite of Bali expat history you might give the Museum Le Mayeur and try on your next visit.
Tommorrow promises to be a little different with the election here in Indonesia. Locals I’ve met rarely have mentioned it, except to say all parties are corrupt.
I’ve heard that some businesses will be closed on April 5th. Will keep you posted on any dramas.