In February 1987 the BBC's QED series broadcast a programme called "The Foolish Wise Ones". Stephen Wiltshire, then eleven years old, was shown producing from memory drawings of London buildings, which moved Sir Hugh Casson to judge him 'a wonderfully natural draughtsman, really spectacularly good'. Doctors the world over are unable to explain why people like Stephen have such talents, but he has proved why we must accept his unique gifts at face value. The QED programme profoundly stirred its audience and hundreds of letters poured in from viewers eagerly seeking to buy a Stephen Wiltshire drawing. Stephen's trustees have decided not to dispose of any originals but rather have granted Dent permission to publish his extraordinary and moving volume which contains some of the finest freehand drawings of a brilliant artist.
'His sense of perspective seems to be faultless... I have never seen in all my competition drawing such a talent, such natural and extraordinary talent that this child seems to have... [Stephen] is possibly the best child artist in Britain.' (Sir Hugh Casson)
Stephen Wiltshire has been described by Sir Hugh Casson as 'possibly the best child artist in Britain'. His talents first came to the fore in February 1987 when he was featured in the BBC television documentary QED in a programme about young people who are gifted. His appearance on the programme and the subsequent publication of his highly acclaimed book Drawings showed his extraordinary ability to draw buildings and scenes with exceptional accuracy and in the most painstaking detail.
While the first volume contained drawings mostly from Britain, the sequel has a wider geographical scope, taking in buildings from New York and Paris as well as new views of Britain. Spectacular development sites are featured, particularly in and around London's Docklands, and his work also includes magical imaginery cities and fantastical scenes.
New drawings in colour reveal an exciting development in Stephen's style and perception.
Floating Cities (1991)
Floating Cities represents sixteen-year-old Stephen's artistic response to a 'Grand Tour' of Europe. The architectural refinement of a bygone Venetian Republic is juxtaposed to the solid merchant spirit of the Northern Reinaissance as seen in Amsterdam. The barbaric vitality and energy of Moscow is set against that epitome of elegance, Leningrad - so often called 'the Venice of the North'.
These drawings testify to an assured draughtsmanship and an ability to convey complex perspective with consummate ease. But more importantly, they reveal his mysterious creative ability to capture the sensibility of a building and that which determines its character and its voice. It is this genius which sets him apart and confers upon him the staus of artist.
For a child who was once locked within the prisonhouse of his own private world, unable to speak, incapable of responding to others, this thrilling development of language, laughter and art is a miracle.
American Dream (1993)
Stephen Wiltshire regards America as his spiritual home and the Europe Grand Tour which culminated in the publication of his third book, Floating Cities, was viewed by him as his overture to the real symphony: 'America, My Favourite'. On a brief previous trip to America, Stephen had fallen in love with the place and its people. It required three wonderful trips across the Atlantic to achieve the breathtaking pictures contained in this book. His American Dream has finally come true.
Stephen Wiltshire and Margaret Hewson first visited Chicago, birthplace of the Skyscraper, and then went on to Washington. 'If Chicago is the jazz age to Stephen, then Washington is plainsong.' writes Margaret Hewson, whose vibrant text accompanies the drawings. Then came the frenetic cities of San Francisco, where he drew a stunning aerial view of the city; Los Angeles, where Stephen was able to act out his own celluliod fantasies; and an inspirational visit to the Grand Canyon by helicopter. The journey ended in New York, which contains everything Stephen adores about America - more skyscrapers, yellow cabs, yowling police-sirens, hamburgers and pretty girls. And, everywhere, classic American cars.
The drawings in this book are bewitching, the cartoons of friends he made are charmingly idiosyncratic, and a greater use of colour than in his previous books adds even more vibrancy. Stephen Wiltshire's American Dream graphically demonstrates a stunning tribute to an incredible and awe-inspiring gift.