Stephen Wiltshire MBE by David Petranker

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Stephen Wiltshire MBE by David Petranker
I was lucky enough to meet Stephen whilst he was in Sydney drawing.
Stephen Wiltshire MBE, (born April 24, 1974) is an architectural artist who has been diagnosed with autism. Wiltshire was born in London, England, to West Indian parents. He is known for his ability to draw a landscape after seeing it just once. He studied Fine Art at City & Guilds Art College. His work is popular all over the world, and is held in a number of important collections.
Wiltshire was mute and at the age of three was diagnosed as autistic. The same year, his father died in a motorcycle accident. At the age of five, Stephen was sent to Queensmill School in London where he expressed interest in drawing. He began to communicate through his art. At the age of eight, he started drawing imaginary post-earthquake cityscapes and cars.
His teachers encouraged his drawing and with their aid Wiltshire learned to speak at the age of nine. When he was ten, Wiltshire drew a sequence of drawings of London landmarks, one for each letter, that he called a “London Alphabet”.
In 1987, Wiltshire was part of a BBC programme The Foolish Wise Ones. A collection of his works, named Drawings, was published that year. Wiltshire can look at a target once and then draw an accurate and detailed picture of it. He once drew the whole of central London after a helicopter trip above it. He can also make imaginary scenes like St. Paul’s Cathedral surrounded by flames. In 2003, there was a major retrospective in the Orleans House gallery in Twickenham, London.
Stephen’s work has been the subject of many TV documentaries. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist, writes about him in the chapter “Prodigies”, in his book An Anthropologist on Mars.
Wiltshire’s books include Drawings (1987), Cities (1989), Floating Cities (1991), and Stephen Wiltshire’s American Dream (1993). His third book—Floating Cities (Michael Joseph, 1991)—was number one on the Sunday Times best-seller list.
Between 1995 and his graduation in 1998, Wiltshire attended the City and Guilds of London Art School in Lambeth, South London.
In May 2005 Stephen produced his longest ever panoramic memory drawing of Tokyo on a 10-metre long canvas within seven days following a short helicopter ride over the city. Since then he has drawn Rome, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and London on giant canvasses. When Wiltshire took the helicopter ride over Rome, he drew it in such great detail that he drew the exact number of columns in the Pantheon.
In 2006, Stephen Wiltshire was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to art. In September 2006 Stephen opened his permanent gallery in the Royal Opera Arcade, Pall Mall, London.
On February 15, 2008, ABC News named him Person of the Week. In his first intimate interview with The Independent in 2009 he revealed his dreams, aspirations, idols and biggest regrets.
In July 2009 he was an ambassador of the Children’s Art Day in the United Kingdom. His work is now popular all over the world, and is held in a number of important collections.
In October 2009 Stephen completed the last work in the series of panoramas, an 18ft memory drawing of his spiritual home, New York. Following a 20 minute helicopter ride over the city he sketched the view of New Jersey, Manhattan, the Financial District, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn over 5 days at Pratt Institute, the world-famous college of art and design, in New York .


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  • JennyMac
    JennyMacabout 4 years ago

    He is so amazing! Great capture….. : ))

  • Thank you Jenny, I will say this is shot is one of my bad ones, wait till you see the good ones but that wont be till the end of May

    – David Petranker

  • Alex Howen
    Alex Howenabout 4 years ago

    Thanks for reminding us of this inspirational story.

  • Thank you Alex, I have been following Stephens work from 1987 when i saw a show on TV about his work, so he has been really insipational to me, more to the point of what you can do if you put your mind to it.

    – David Petranker

  • H Maria Perry
    H Maria Perryabout 4 years ago

    What an amazing photographic memory he has and amazing artistic talent. Thank you for sharing this photograph and his bio.

  • Thank you H M for not only having a look at my work but also reading this incrible mans BIO.

    – David Petranker

  • Wendi Donaldson
    Wendi Donaldsonabout 4 years ago

    He certainly is a gifted soul. Amazing story!

  • Thank you Wendi

    – David Petranker

  • janeymac
    janeymacabout 4 years ago

    He is a wonder , brilliant artist and great shot !!

  • Jane Keats
    Jane Keatsabout 4 years ago

    Great photo and great read David!

  • Magi5760
    Magi5760about 4 years ago

    Congratulations from your hosts at The Human Condition!

  • Solomon Walker
    Solomon Walkerabout 4 years ago

    a great photo of this incredible artist!

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