VIEW TO A SKILL
Using his astounding memory, autistic savant Stephen Wiltshire MBE creates amazingly accurate images. Here, Matchbox showcases a selection of work from his extraordinary artist.
It was the late 1990s and a young British artist was following in the steps of his 19th-century counterparts and taking the Grand Tour. Travelling through Venice, Amsterdam, Leningrad (as it then was) and Moscow, the young man attracted crowds whenever he stopped to sketch, for his talent was something they had never seen before. The young man was Stephen Wiltshire, one of Britain's leading architectural artists. He was also an autistic savant. Who first came to prominence in 1987, when he was featured on a BBC documentary called The Foolish Wise Ones. It highlighted the fact that he can draw extremely detailed and technically perfect cityscapes from memory – and that memory can last for decades. He still draws pictures of the New York skyline featuring the Twin Towers.
Stephen was born in 1974. His father died when he was just three, shortly after the family learned he was autistic. Two years later, he was enrolled at the Queensmill School, a London primary school for children with special needs. It was here that his extraordinary aptitude for art began to emerge: after a time, his teachers temporarily took away his art supplies to encourage him to speak. His first word was 'paper'; he learned to speak properly at the age of nine.
Since then, Stephen has worked and travelled all over the world. Contrary to the public perception of people with autism, however, Stephen has a wicked sense of humour, and while not currently in a relationship, he's let one thing be known. Artist prefer blondes.