Stephen Wiltshire is a British artist renowned for his exceptional ability to create intricate and detailed drawings of cityscapes from memory. Born on April 24, 1974, in London, England, Stephen was diagnosed with autism at an early age. Despite challenges with communication and social interaction, he discovered his passion for art as a means of expression.
As a child, he was mute and did not relate to other people. Aged three, he was diagnosed as autistic. He had no language and lived entirely in his own world.
At the age of five, Stephen was sent to Queensmill School in London, where it was noticed that the only pastime he enjoyed was drawing. It soon became apparent he communicated with the world through the language of drawing; first animals, then London buses, and finally buildings. These drawings show a masterful perspective, and a whimsical line, and reveal a natural innate artistry.
The instructors at Queensmill School encouraged him to speak by temporarily taking away his art supplies so that he would be forced to ask for them. Stephen responded by making sounds and eventually uttered his first word - "paper." He learned to speak fully at the age of nine. His early illustrations depicted animals and cars; he is still extremely interested in American cars and is said to have an encyclopedic knowledge of them. When he was about seven, Stephen became fascinated with sketching landmark London buildings.
One of Stephen's teachers took a particular interest in him, who later accompanied his young student on drawing excursions and entered his work in children's art competitions, many of which garnered Stephen awards. The local press became increasingly suspicious as to how a young child could produce such masterful drawings.
The media interest soon turned nationwide and the seven-year-old Stephen Wiltshire made his first steps to launch his lifelong career. The same year he sold his first work and by the time he turned 8, he received his first commission from the British Prime Minister to create a drawing of Salisbury Cathedral.
In February 1987 Stephen appeared in The Foolish Wise Ones. (The show also featured savants with musical and mathematical talents.) During his segment Hugh Casson, a former president of London's Royal Academy of Arts referred to him as "possibly the best child artist in Britain."
Stephen's artistic talent manifested itself in his uncanny ability to accurately reproduce complex architectural details after only brief observation. His drawings exhibit astonishing precision, capturing intricate features and landmarks with remarkable accuracy. Dubbed the "Human Camera" for his photographic memory, Stephen can retain and reproduce intricate cityscape scenes with remarkable precision.
Notably, Stephen's works often feature iconic cities such as London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Rome, showcasing his ability to capture the essence and character of each location. His drawings often span large panoramic canvases, showcasing his attention to detail and mastery of perspective.
Throughout his career, Stephen Wiltshire has received widespread recognition and numerous accolades. In 2006, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to art. His artwork has been exhibited globally, with his own gallery and company, "Stephen Wiltshire Ltd," showcasing and selling his original artworks, limited edition prints, and merchandise featuring his unique cityscape drawings.
Stephen's artistic journey has not only brought him personal success but has also served as an inspiration for individuals on the autism spectrum and beyond. Through his incredible talent, he has shattered preconceived notions about the abilities of individuals with autism and has become a symbol of what can be achieved through dedication, focus, and the power of art.
Stephen Wiltshire's remarkable skill and his dedication to his craft continue to captivate audiences worldwide. His unique ability to capture the intricacies of cityscapes with astonishing accuracy has solidified his place as one of the most celebrated artists of his generation, leaving a lasting impact on the art world and inspiring others to pursue their passions despite any obstacles they may face.
They are so many Stephen Wiltshire’s out there living with disability in Nigeria and all that is needed is a hand to raise them up. “Inclusion is not a matter of simply being present, but of being truly heard, valued, and embraced for who we are.”