Simon says make art in Shanghai

One look at the Bund is all it takes to make art

British painter Stephen Wiltshire will begin sketching Shanghai’s Bund Area from memory today after seeing it for just five minutes from the 30th floor of a building in Puxi.

The 36-year-old artist, who is known for his astonishing ability to draw detailed landscapes from memory, abandoned his previous plan to draw the Expo site after he visited yesterday. ‘I just like this part of the city (the Bund) and want to draw it,’ said the artist, but he did like the Expo site too, he said, and had visited the UK and the Australia pavilions.

His Bund picture is being drawn on a 1.2-metre-long and 0.8-metre-tall canvas over two days at the Arts School of the East China Normal University. He will keep drawing from 10am to 5pm each day with an hour’s break for lunch. The public will be allowed to watch him at work at the university on Zhongshan Road N.

Wiltshire said that while he did not want to be disturbed, he welcomed people to watch him as he sketches, said Simon Chang, organizer of the event. He will listen to music while he is drawing, and his sister Annette Wiltshire, his sister, will be with him on both days.

The artist decided to make the Bund his subject after viewing the area from the 30th floor restaurant in Puxi where he had lunch yesterday. The panoramic view was enough for him to remember all the details, he said.

No pictures were taken or details noted, to Chang’s surprise. The area he picked to draw includes the city’s landmark Waibaidu Bride and the buildings along the Huangpu River.

He will sign 2010 copies of the completed work and they will be sold in Shanghai on October 1 at a venue still to be decided. The original painting will be sold at auction. Chang said that many more pictures of the city would be drawn before the artist leaves on October 3 and those might include the Expo site.

Wiltshire became famous when he was just a child after sketching an 18-square-kilometre area of London in 1987 with remarkable accuracy and incredible detail after seeing the area from a helicopter. He has also sketched the urban scenery of New York, Frankfurt, Toronto, Sydney, Rome and Hong Kong. In May 2005, he produced his longest panoramic drawing of Tokyo on a 10-metre-long canvas within seven days following a helicopter ride over the city.

The last drawing in his urban scenery series was of his spiritual home New York in 2009. Wiltshire was awarded an MBE for services to art in 2006. His work is popular all over the world and in a number of important collections.


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