Stephen Wiltshire, autistic savant, produces exclusive drawing of London's newly re-opened St Pancras Station|
LONDON, UK: Artist Stephen Wiltshire is known to millions around the world as the human camera. An autistic savant, he has a remarkable ability that allows him to make detailed drawings of entire cityscapes, often from memory.
"I can look at something, take it in and then go somewhere else and put it on paper – the lines, the shapes, and angles and arcs," says Wiltshire, 33.
Stephen Wiltshire's drawing of St Pancras Station, specially commissioned by the Daily Telegraph to mark the re-opening
He has now drawn most of London's major landmarks, as well as the skylines of Venice, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo.
Railways stations are his particular favourite. Wiltshire first drew St Pancras in 1988, soon after he appeared in a BBC documentary. He drew the station again in 2006, this time from memory and with near-perfect recall.
To commemorate the re-opening of the building, The Daily Telegraph newspaper commissioned Wiltshire to produce an exclusive drawing. He took just two hours to capture every detail its refurbished interior.
"The new, modern station was built with a lot of glass and a big steel archway," he says. "It is a very nice building. They have these new, very fast trains as well. And they've restored the old Victorian hotel and made some new apartments. My favourite thing is the big steel archway."
Born in London in to West Indian parents in 1974, Wiltshire was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Shortly afterwards, his father was killed in a motorbike accident and his behavioural difficulties deteriorated sharply.
It was at Queensmill School for children with special needs in London that Wiltshire began, aged five, to display his prodigious artistic talent.
Mute, withdrawn and prone to tantrums, he communicated best through the pictures he drew - first of animals, then cars and later, buildings. Gradually, his teacher coaxed him into speaking by taking away his materials and forcing him to shout "Paper!" when he wanted to draw.
In 1987, a BBC documentary The Foolish Wise Ones, revealed Wiltshire's ability to reproduce London's complex architecture with astonishing accuracy in a series of pencil drawings.
Introducing him on the programme, the celebrated architect, Sir Hugh Casson, described Wiltshire as "the best child artist in Britain". Wiltshire went on to become the first autistic savant in Britain to attend art school at the City and Guilds, in Kennington. He was awarded an MBE for services to art in the 2006 New Year's Honours list and last year opened a permanent gallery in London.
For more information, visit www.stephenwiltshire.co.uk
(Source: Daily Telegraph, November 14, 2007)