All eyes were on British artist Stephen Wiltshire at Paragon yesterday morning, as the savant began drawing the Singapore cityscape from memory.
He had picked out Marina Bay Sands as his favourite after an hour-long helicopter ride the day before to get an aerial view of Singapore’s skyline. So it was apt that an outline of the iconic integrated resort was the first thing the artist sketched on the left of the 4m by 1m blank canvas which was mounted on a wooden structure.
Seated on a high chair and plugged into music from his iPhone, he then went over the pencilled outline with a pen.
'This is the first time I've been to Singapore and the skyline was so beautiful and nice. I'm feeling good and am excited to start on the panorama,' the 40-year-old told the media at the press launch of See The Big Picture, which is part of Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) 30th anniversary celebrations. At the event, which began at 10am, SPH chairman Lee Boon Yang presented Mr Wiltshire with a blue Staedtler HB pencil with which he began his sketch. By noon, there were more than 100 people gathered at Paragon’s main atrium to witness the artist in action.
Diagnosed with autism when he was three years old, Mr Wiltshire is acclaimed for his astounding ability to draw detailed cityscapes from memory after viewing them once. Some members of the public sat on black benches at the front of the stage to catch Mr Wiltshire's live drawing, while others walked around admiring his famous panoramic works, 18 of which were on display. These include finely detailed sketches of cityscapes and landmarks in London, New York, Venice and Rio de Janeiro.
Most people who came for the event at Paragon yesterday had read about him in the papers or online. Housewife Dorothy Tan, 62, said: 'I've heard about him before and rushed down here to watch him. His drawings, are amazing and I'm looking forward to seeing the whole big picture of the Singapore landscape.'
Student Daniel Lee, 22, said: 'The most impressive thing is the level of detail he can put into his piece of art after just a few hours of observation. I’ll probably go down the next few days to check on his progress.'
By 5pm yesterday, he had already completed drawing the Gardens by the Bay on the canvas.
Mr Wiltshire will be at Paragon drawing in full view of the public from 10am to 5pm everyday till Sunday, which is when he is slated to complete the artwork. The finished work of art will be presented to President Tony Tan Keng Yam in September as a gift to Singapore for the nation's 50th birthday next year.
A gift to Singapore
British architectural artist Stephen Wiltshire has been commissioned to draw Singapore's cityscape by Singapore Press Holdings as part of an event called See The Big Picture, to celebrate the companys 30th anniversary. When completed, Mr Wiltshire’s 4m-long panorama of the Lion City will be displayed at the Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore City Gallery until it is formally presented to President Tony Tan Keng Yam in September as a gift to Singapore for the nation’s 50th birthday next year. Watch Mr Wiltshire at work at the main atrium of Paragon shopping mall in Orchard Road, from now until Sunday, 10am to 5pm.