Apr. 30, 1999: Report from the opening of Paul's Paintings Exhibition in Siegen, Germany

Preface: All images are copyrighted 1999 Harald Gernhardt. Any re-use is expressively prohibited!

What an event! In Siegen, Germany - of all places. Located some 50+ miles east of Cologne, Siegen (105,000 population) appears to be a very provincial city - at least according to some very chatty inhabitants. They couldn't believe what they were seeing because nothing ever happens there. Rubens was born there, and that's about it - they said. Anyway, it seems that Siegen is now world-famous ;-)

The Lyz in Siegen
The site - The Lÿz in Siegen

Did you see this T-shirt?

My girlfriend and I arrived in Siegen shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday, April 30. Maybe 100 fans and reporters were already waiting outside. I've also spotted people from Japan, the USA and Poland who came especially for this event! An editor of the local newspaper told me that the press conference (that was originally scheduled for 10.00 a.m.) was to take place at 11.40 a.m. So we were waiting outside, and numerous reporters and film teams were talking to the fans and wanted to hear that everyone was travelling to Siegen just to see Paul and his paintings. We wore a very special T-shirt (see left) that drew a lot of attention. Maybe you saw it there, too - then you saw the webmaster of this site!
The ladies from Macca-L told me that they had been in Siegen since Tuesday (!) and that Paul was travelling from London to Siegen and back every day. On Tuesday he would even sign autographs for the 14 fans that were waiting for him to arrive. However, most of the time they only saw him arrive but not leave. There are several possibilities to enter/leave from the site, so it was speculated were Paul's car would stop. It became clear when the security guys started to arrange the barriers, and the crowd quickly gathered there. To the right you see Goeff Baker (Paul's publicist) giving last instructions to the numerous TV teams and photographers - telling them they could either take photos from the outside when Paul arrives, or attend the press conference, but not both.

Geoff Baker giving last instructions
11:16 a.m. - Geoff Baker giving last instructions

At 11:33, Paul finally arrived in the blue Mercedes (I had mistakingly first stated he came in a black one). It took him less than 30 seconds to get out of the car, walk the short passage and up the stairs to disappear into the inside.

Paul arrives
Paul arrives at 11:33:50 - sorry, no autographs
(click to enlarge)

Paul quickly hurries past the fans, many of them asking him to autograph their items. Only 9 seconds later, he's almost at the stairway.

Paul at 11:33:59
11:33:59 - Paul would still not sign anything
(click to enlarge)

Paul waves to the fans before he quickly disappears into the building.

Paul waiving before he enters the building
11:34:09 - Paul enters the building
(click to enlarge)

15:50 - Paul leaves the exhibition and enters a blue Mercedes coupé, accompanied by two big black limousines. At this time, there was quite some crowd waiting outside, all getting sun-burned (no kidding!).

Paul leaves at 15:50
(click to enlarge)

Paul arrives again at 18:32, together with his family. By this time, an incredible amount of people had assembled in front of the building and it was hard for the cars to get through. Paul sat in the first one, and on this picture you can see Paul's car bumping into one of the barrier gates (ouch!).

18:32 - Paul arrives with his family
Paul and family arrive at 18:32
(click to enlarge)

Brian Clarke, glas artist and designer of e.g. some of Paul's album covers and the world tour stage, leaving at 20:22. As there were rumours that George Harrison was seen, I asked him if Harrison had actually attended the vernissage. "No, " he said, "George Harrison was not here." Clarke wrote a preface in the exhibition catalogue.

Brian Clarke
Brian Clarke leaving at 20:22

Only VIPs were still present by this time. I could spot Paul several times, he first sat at the 2nd window to the right on the first floor, and later (before he left) he chatted in the café on the ground floor.

22:09 - Paul was occasionally seen in the Bistro/Cafe#
22:09 - Paul was occasionally seen in the bistro/cafe

Stella McCartney and (who?) are leaving via the bistro exit. Here they are in yet another black Mercedes. I took the picture from very far away, in the night, with flash and zoom, hence the bad picture quality. Please don't accuse me of intruding her privacy, she is a public figure, this was a public event, and I didn't interfere or disturb her.

Stelle Leaving

Sir George Martin
Sir George Martin leaving

Paul "Wix" Wickens leaving
Paul "Wix" Wickens leaving

And In The End ...

Sir Paul leaving for the 2nd and last time

Sir Paul leaving for the 2nd and last time

(What can you with the batteries of the digital camera empty, the very last picture in the ordinary camera, running while taking this photo, with full zoom and people around everywhere, and the car already reaching full speed. Sniff! PLUGGED goes Paparazzi ...)

catalogue (front)
the 140+ page catalogue (DM39.50)

catalog (back)
back of my catalogue, autographed by Wix :-)


What else can I say?
Paul left after 11pm. And unlike the other celebrites who left via the doors/stairway Paul used in the morning, Paul left through the exhibition entry where most of the crowd had assembled.

I will be presenting many more pictures as soon as the film is developed! - Done!

Who was there at all?
I personally saw Paul, Stella, Heather, Sir George Martin, Wix Wickens and Brian Clarke. James was also seen, and there were rumours that a white-haired George Harrison was there only for a short time and leaving very quickly. I cannot confirm this, since Brian Clarke told me Harrison was not there. Also, someone who saw this white-haired man entering before, confirmed that he saw the very same man leaving and could clearly see that it was not Harrison.

I'll also write about the special video installation as soon as time permits. A very avantgarde Paul, indeed, doing it for almost 3 hours, Fireman-style! ;-)

The Free Brochure

Now, some videos from TV. With German voice-over but still very enjoyable!

click to watch! News clip #1 on Paul's Paintings exhibition in Siegen, Germany, 30 April 1999 (high quality) real G2 download Realplayer G2 2:00 3222KB
click to watch! News clip #2 on Paul's Paintings exhibition in Siegen, Germany, 30 April 1999 (high quality) real G2 download Realplayer G2 0:53 1391KB
click to watch! News clip #3 on Paul's Paintings exhibition in Siegen, Germany, 30 April 1999 (high quality) real G2 download Realplayer G2 0:35 977KB

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