Putting pen on paper - Independent

Independent 2015 - The Artist's Press Archive

Putting pen to paper?

Pens, pencils, whatever you like, Stephen Wiltshire has just celebrated the 10th anniversary of his London art gallery. He specializes in drawing and painting cityscapes in intricate detail and has enjoyed critical acclaim thanks to his ability to draw from memory a landscape after viewing it just once.

When did he develop this skill?

Mr Wiltshire was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. He didn't speak when he started primary school, according to his sister Annette, 'He just kept his head down scribbling on paper', she told the BBC.

Did he ever learn to speak?

Yes. His school would take pupils to landmarks and ask them to draw what they had seen on their return. When his teachers discovered his abilities, they tricked him into speaking by taking his equipment away. I hope he wasn’t upset...
Mr Wiltshire, now 41, has gone from strength to strength. He learnt to speak fully at the age of nine. His passion for architecture and art shines through. 'Cities are so beautiful', he said.

When did he hit the big time?

In 2005, he visited Tokyo and after taking a helicopter ride, produced an enormous panoramic drawing of what he had seen, in astonishing detail.

Has he attempted other cities?

Mr Wiltshire, appointed MBE in 2006, created a 10 metre long drawing of Hong Kong. He has also drawn Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and London.

Where to next?

Mr Wiltshire is focusing on growing his business – his work can command six-figure sums.


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