This Genius Autistic Artist Can Draw Entire Cities Using His Memory

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By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

Stephen Wiltshire was written off as autistic by doctors when he was just three years old. But at the age of 46, he is stirring up a storm in the art sphere. He just spends five days sketching a city skyline in vivid detail just after one ride on the helicopter.

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The Early Life of Stephen Wiltshire

Young Wiltshire did not speak even at the age of three. His parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from the West Indies. They believed the development of his speech had just been delayed. But in 1977, when he was 3 years old, he was diagnosed with autism. To make matters even harder for him, his father passed away in a motorbike accident that year.

stephen wiltshire as a young boy

As opposed to today, autism was viewed very differently in the 70s. Wiltshire’s family was told that he would never succeed in life given his issues of development.

He was admitted to the Queensmill School situated in London. It was an institute for children with autism. This is where he began his remarkable journey proving everyone wrong, at just 5 years of age.

Wiltshire displayed an extremely keen curiosity in drawing. He began by drawing cars and animals. It was when he was educated about earthquakes that he drew imaginary drawings of cities decimated by earthquakes. Prior to just that, he drew famous buildings in London. Soon enough, he began producing complex cityscape sketches with a lot more detail.

It is also at this school where his teachers concealed his supplies that he used to draw with to compel him to speak. His first utterance was apparently “paper”. His full range of speech developed by the time he was 9 years old.

A Career Out of a Passion

Wilshire was first commissioned at age 8 by the then British PM, Margaret Thatcher. He was to sketch the Salisbury Cathedral for Thatcher. When he was 10 years old, he created a collection called “The London Alphabet” featuring one London landmark for each successive letter in the alphabet.

Wiltshire was also featured in a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) documentary, Q.E.D when he was 11 years of age. He was taken to St. Pancras station situated in the central part of London. He had to draw the ornate station details from memory in the latter part of the day.

This really astonished Sir Hugh Casson, a renowned British architect, who called Wiltshire a “natural draftsman.”

He published his very first book at the age of 13. It was named Drawings. Casson was featured in the preface of the book. He graduated in 1998, from City & Guilds of London Art School. During this time, he published 3 more books of art. His book from 1991, Floating Cities, was topped the bestseller list of Sunday Times.

Successes of Stephen Wiltshire In Present Day

Wiltshire primarily sketches cityscapes now. His artwork is permanently displayed at a gallery situated in London. In addition to that, he also conducts shows all across the planet.

Usually, he takes a ride on a helicopter to view the next subject he would draw. He likes to sketch in front of a live audience at times or does it alone. He generally spends 5 to 10 days sketching things onto a massive canvas.

Wiltshire is the 2006 recipient of an award called MBE, which stands for Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. This is accredited to this service to the world of art. He is a vehement supporter of the education of art for children and much of his work contributes to similar causes.

His works include sketching the skylines across the planet. He has drawn Frankfurt, London, Jerusalem, Dubai, Madrid, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, and parts of New York City.

Annette Wiltshire’s sister says Stephen’s artistry is what makes him a talking point. Stephen has a very vague comprehension of autism. All he understands is the fact that he happens to be an artist.

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Image credits: Stephen Wiltshire


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