Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Autistic Artist draws cities from memory

Artist to draw Sydney from memory
Talent discovered when he was just five
Diagnosed with autism at three-years-old
Artist Stephen Wiltshire drawing the New York landscape from memory. This week he will attempt Sydney's skyline 

Article Shared from - Weird True Freaky

AN ARTIST who can draw a city skyline after looking at it for a few minutes is set to take on Sydney.

Stephen Wiltshire will arrive in Australia this week to show off his extraordinary talent for drawing cities in intricate detail.

The 36-year-old artist, who was diagnosed with autism when he was three, hopes to produce a poster-size pen and ink drawing of the harbour city after examining its skyline for just 20 minutes.

He's already impressed many around the world with his large-scale intricate panoramas of New York and London.

Before drawing those two world-famous cities, he memorised the position and size of hundreds of buildings and landmarks while on 20-minute helicopter rides.

His four-metre long panorama of London on a curved canvas took five days to complete in 2007, with not one sneak peak at a photograph of the city for help.

Last October he followed up with a jaw-dropping 5.5 metre-long drawing of New York City, including the Empire State Building, which took just three days.

When he arrives in Australia, one of Mr Wiltshire's first stops will be Sydney Tower so he can gain a birdseye view of the skyline before getting down to work at Customs House on Tuesday.

Sitting in his tiny studio perched in a loft above his gallery on London's famous Pall Mall, the quietly spoken artist is excited about his first visit to Australia.

"I have never been there before," he said.

"I wanted to go because it's a nice, beautiful city. It's going to be amazing."

Mr Wiltshire has been invited to Sydney by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) to mark Autism month.

His arrival was delayed by more than a week because of the recent disruption to air travel in Europe following the Icelandic volcano eruption.

While he won't decide on what exactly will be in his Sydney drawing until the last minute, he admits remembering all the detail of a city's skyline is difficult even though he makes it look relatively easy.

"I find it hard work to put in lots of information in just a few days," he said.

"Sometimes it's hard to remember because there's lots of detail.

"My favourite is New York. They have the big avenues and lots of yellow taxi cabs. The traffic is chaotic and it's full of people."

Stephen's amazing talent for drawing was discovered when he was just five years old and sketching London's double decker buses.

His family and teachers soon discovered that his art work was one of the key ways he could communicate.

By age nine he had moved on to St Paul's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge.

His works were so good that Sir Hugh Casson of the Royal Academy described him as "the best child artist in Britain".

Then as a teenager his attention switched to American cars such as Cadillacs and Buicks before enrolling as a fine arts student at City & Guilds.

In 2006, he was awarded an MBE for services to art by Prince Charles.

Aspect's education and research executive director, Dr Trevor Clark, hopes Mr Wiltshire's talents will help raise awareness of the one in 160 Australian children with autism.

"Stephen's talent is rare, but he highlights how important it is for potential to be realised and developed from an early age and how this can help with developing independence and self expression,'' he said.

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