Stephen Wiltshire

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Stephen Wiltshire: Times Square - oil on canvas
Stephen Wiltshire receives MBE for services to art

Stephen Wiltshire MBE, (born April 24, 1974) is an architectural artist who has been diagnosed with autism.[1][2] Wiltshire was born in London, England, to West Indian parents.[1] He is known for his ability to draw a landscape after seeing it just once.


[edit] Early life

Wiltshire was mute and at the age of three was diagnosed as an autist. The same year, his father died in a motorcycle accident.[1][2] At the age of five, Stephen was sent to Queensmill School in London where he expressed interest in drawing. He began to communicate through his drawings. At the age of eight, he began to draw imaginary post-earthquake cityscapes and cars.

His teachers began to encourage his drawing and, with their aid, Wiltshire slowly learned to speak at the age of nine.[2] When he was ten, Wiltshire drew a sequence of drawings of London landmarks, one for each letter, that he called a "London Alphabet".[3]

In 1987, Wiltshire was part of a BBC programme The Foolish Wise Ones.[3] A collection of his works, named Drawings, was published that year.[3] Wiltshire can look at a target once and then draw an accurate and detailed picture of it. He once drew the whole of central London after a helicopter trip above it.[4] He can also make imaginary scenes like St. Paul's Cathedral surrounded by flames. In 2003, there was a major retrospective in the Orleans House gallery in Twickenham, London.

Stephen's work has been the subject of many TV documentaries; neurologist Oliver Sacks writes about him in the chapter "Prodigies", in his book An Anthropologist on Mars.

Wiltshire's books include Drawings (1987), Cities (1989), Floating Cities (1991), and Stephen Wiltshire's American Dream (1993). His third book—Floating Cities (Michael Joseph, 1991)—was number one on the Sunday Times best-seller list.

Between 1995 and his graduation in 1998, Wiltshire attended the City and Guilds of London Art School[5] in Lambeth, South London.

In May 2005 Stephen produced his longest ever panoramic memory drawing of Tokyo on a 10-meter long canvas within seven days following a short helicopter ride over the city. Since then he has drawn Rome, Hong Kong and Frankfurt on giant canvasses, and is in the process of drawing Madrid, after taking a 30 minute helicopter ride in February 2008. When Wiltshire took the helicopter ride over Rome, he drew it in such great detail that he drew the exact number of columns in the Colosseum. [6]

In 2006, Stephen Wiltshire was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to art.[1] In September 2006 Stephen opened his permanent gallery in the Royal Opera Arcade, Pall Mall, London.[3]

On February 15, 2008, ABC News named him Person of the Week.[7]

[edit] Selected quotes about Wiltshire

  • "I first met Stephen Wiltshire, briefly, in 1988 when he was visiting and drawing New York. I found him somewhat 'strange', clearly autistic, but a charming and friendly boy with a wonderful gift for drawing." Oliver Sacks, in the foreword to Floating Cities
  • "...his detachment, his remoteness, his odd tics---then his warm smile. He is very ready to smile if people smile at him first" Oliver Sacks, in the foreword to Floating Cities
  • "A few tourists [in the Red Square] stopped and peered desultorily; they saw a funny little boy, on a little stool, pretending to draw... and then, as the Spassky Tower began to take shape, as Stephen's masterly draughtsmanship and grasp of perspective became manifest, as the first outline was filled with rich, confident detail, they ceased to be desultory, they were arrested, they stopped in wonder—until finally there was a crowd of people, hushed, watching him in awe." Ibid
  • "I have never stood so much in awe of a marvellous mysterious gift. This is an achievement to be celebrated and nurtured." Robin Philipson
  • "[Stephen Wiltshire's] sense of perspective seems to be faultless. I've never seen in all my competition drawing such a talent, such a natural and extraordinary talent, that this child seems to have... (Stephen) is possibly the best child artist in Britain." Hugh Casson, in the foreword to Drawings.
  • "'Stephen Wiltshire is a wonderful role model to all young people. Here is a young man, diagnosed with autism, who has overcome barriers to become a leading architectural artist in the world. Stephen Wiltshire has made a difference.." Ivan Corea

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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