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Deiarte Gallery and Bar illuminates winter in the villageJanuary 17, 2024

Never assume anything about Deià. For a while now, the winter social scene in the village has been so quiet you could say it was non-existent. Then Sara le Roy, owner of the funky new Deiarte Gallery and Bar decided to stay open throughout the winter and hold regular jam sessions.

You could say that the jam session captures the essence of music in Deià. Musicians from utterly different backgrounds, with varying degrees of chops and chutzpah, get together for a free-flowing session that can go on for hours or be short and sweet, rise to the transcendent or be awful.

The jam sessions at the Deiarte Gallery and Bar have come about thanks to the openness and generosity of spirit of the owner, artist Sara le Roy.


Painter and model hand in hand

Originally from the Hague, Holland, Sara is the daughter of Dutch abstract expressionist painter JP Leroy.

‘My father studied at the Dutch Royal Academy of Art in the Hague,’ Sara tells me when I speak with her at Deiarte. ‘He gave me a paintbrush when I was two years old. I started painting seriously when I was 18. It’s funny, one of the modelling jobs I had was for Wii home video games. For the casting I had to pretend to paint. Because I’d been painting all my life that was no problem for me. The people at Wii loved it and I got the job.’

Sara began modelling in London. Previously, she’d been travelling around the world. She lived in Scarborough in the north of England with a guy she met travelling before moving to London and starting her modelling career.

Now Sara has one of those charming accents I associate with Deià: European, transatlantic but with the occasional quintessentially English turn of phrase.

She stopped modelling around eight years ago to paint full-time. ‘I started a gallery in Brighton,’ she told me. ‘It’s quite a funky place. Every night there’s mayhem. There’s a great music scene with different, often big name, bands playing.’

In 2022, Sara exhibited at the prestigious British Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London.



Fairytale hi-tech, 3D meets 2D

Sarah’s paintings line the walls of the Deiarte Gallery and Bar. Her psychedelic adventures around the world and the fairy tales she adored growing up are her main influences.

One piece that jumps out at me is inspired by the great Todd Haynes Bob Dylan film I’m Not There although Sara has to explain the connection. ‘I took a still from the movie and changed the heads to animal ones,’ she says.

This combination of 3D, requiring viewers to wear special glasses like the ones you wear to watch 3D movies, and 2D is kind of a signature of Sara’s work. It accentuates the strange energy of paintings such as one in the toilet of Tinkerbell standing in front of a mirror dyeing her hair black with one of her breasts exposed, midway through a killing spree.

‘A guy from some band that was famous in the 1970s or 80s who lives here wants to buy a picture of Alice in Wonderland with a mummified rabbit in a field of magic mushrooms,’ Sara tells me.

We try to figure out who that might be. After some guessing, I suggest Andy Bell, singer/songwriter with the band Erasure. ‘That’s him,’ Sara says.

In contrast with those who see moving to the village as some sort of statement, it seems Sara’s living proof that Deià acts a magnet for a certain kind of nonconformist, bohemian character, often unaware of the village’s rich cultural history and psychedelic past.


Drawn to Deià

It’s always been Sara’s dream to live on a small island. After 15 years spent living between London and Brighton and galvanised by lockdown, she decided to make that dream a reality.

‘I Googled Deià, thought that looks amazing, this place is cool. What could go wrong, you know? I sold my house and gallery in Brighton and just moved here two years ago. Apart from the vibe of the village itself, I love nature so this place is perfect for me.

Sara knew nothing about Deià’s splendid psychedelic spirit and characters like musicians Daevid Allen, Kevin Ayers and Lady June who would have been right at home at one of her gallery’s jam sessions, along with painter Mati Klarwein. Mati lived in the village for many years. His painting Anunciation (1961) was famously used for the cover of the great Santana album Abraxas.


In a painting – well haunted

After living for a time in a finca up in the mountains, Sara found a four-storey house on Deià’s main street. The house was in a ‘right state’ when she moved in. There was no water plumbed in, just a well.

‘I felt like I was in one of my own paintings,’ she says, ‘going up and down four flights of stairs with a bucket like Cinderella.’

I tell Sara that wells in old Mallorcan houses are sometimes haunted. The legend goes that if a husband wanted to murder a wife, he would drop her down the well. When I first came to the village, I heard a story about the village priest exorcising a well in a house up near the church, watched by the poet Robert Graves and various bohemian types.

On a winter’s afternoon when the fire is lit, the sun is slowly sinking and gloom gathers, the story fits nicely with the vibe of Deiarte on a winter’s afternoon.

Sara kept the house’s original tiles, but much has been renovated and redesigned. She opened up the basement, where group shows are regularly held. A show in early December included work by the artist and designer Matthew Williamson alongside other local painters such as David Templeton.


Jumping jam sessions

David has lived in Deià for many years. He’s also a singer, who has taken part in the Deiarte jam sessions. He’s a fan of the gallery and Sara. ‘She’s really shaking things up and attracting a lot of interest,’ he says. ‘Deià has been crying out for such a place and ambience for years. Shades of the 80s!’

Saxophone player Hugo Napier has played in several jam sessions at Deiarte. He adds, ‘We all like Sara and there’s a great atmosphere. Sara has an enormous dog that’s very nice. She has two cats from Thailand that I adore because they’re so different – they have very long tails. And right now, she’s the only game in town.’

The bar element of Deiarte Gallery and Bar came about after Sara started applying for licenses for the gallery. Giggling, she says, ‘I thought, “I’ll put in a bar”. Because, after a few rosés, you know, everything looks better.’

In the summer, the bar is used in the daytime mainly by people visiting the village. At night, there are more locals drinking wine and G&Ts. And in winter, the bar’s a cosy, nicely wild place to listen to music by local musicians. As you watch the shadows play across Sara’s paintings and experience creative, open minded, friendly Deià at its finest.

To find the times of the jam sessions at Deiarte as well as group shows and exhibitions, follow the gallery on Insta.




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