For over 30 years, the name Stephen Wiltshire has been synonymous with finely-detailed, vigorous pen and ink drawings of the world’s great cities. These drawings – often drawn from memory and at a great speed -are sketched on the spot at street level ,drawn from the top of skyscrapers or sometimes made after whistle-stop helicopter rides over the city.
Stephen regularly travels all over the world on private and public commissions, the most famous of which are his ten city panoramas drawn from memory. His talent is even more incredible considering that he was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old. Born in London in 1974, Stephen was mute as a small child, and found it hard to relate to other people.
At the age of five, he was sent to Queensmill School, London, where it soon became apparent that he communicated through the language of drawing. His teachers encouraged him to speak by temporarily taking away his art materials; eventually he uttered his first words – “paper” and “pencil” Oust like Picasso) – but didn’t learn to speak fully until the age of nine. As soon as Stephen’s school started to enter his art into competitions, news of his talent began to spread. Early fans included the late Prime Minister Edward Heath, who bought his drawing of Salisbury Cathedral, made when Stephen was eight Stephen came to wider public attention when the BBC featured him in the programme, ‘The Foolish Wise Ones’ in 1987, when he was introduced by Sir Hugh as “the best child artist in Britain”.
In 2005, he was commissioned to undertake vast panoramic drawings of ten world cities and in 2006 Stephen was recognised for his services to the art world, when he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. That year Stephen and his family opened a permanent art gallery in London’s historic Royal Opera Arcade. Variously described by the media as ‘the leading architectural artist in the world’ and ‘the living testament to what can be achieved when potential is realised and developed early on’, Stephen enjoys accolades from all over the world. But perhaps he would enjoy most the description of one journalist who also noted his enduring love of music: “He is a rock star in the art world.”