Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stephan Wiltshire: Art and Autism

Stephen Wiltshire was born on April 24, 1974 in London, England.  His mother was from St. Lucia and his father from Barbados. He demonstrated developmental delay and was diagnosed with autism as a 3 year old.  At age 5, he attended Queensmill School in West London.  The teachers noticed his interest in drawing and used this as a motivator for speaking (e.g., his first word was "paper" to ask for drawing supplies).  He became fluent in speech at the age of nine. 

As a youngster, he preferred to draw animals and cars.  He is said to have an encyclopedic knowledge of American cars.  During his elementary years, he became fascinated with drawing buildings and landmarks.  He began creating detailed architectural drawings of imaginary cityscapes. At about age 10, Stephen created a project called the "London Alphabet"; the drawings included famous landmarks and buildings in London, all listed in alphabetical sequence from A to Z.

Stephen Wiltshire has created several famous panoramas of iconic cities all around the world, and completes the drawings from memory.  He also has been discovered to have significant musical talent.  "One evening Stephen stood on a chair and sang Carmen from memory. He had picked it up from the television and remembered it almost perfectly." He soon began studying with the music teacher Evelyn Preston, who identified Stephen as having perfect pitch - the rare ability to identify the pitch of an isolated musical note.


What a wonderful illustration of the gifts and challenges of autism in one individual.  Visit his website to learn more:   Stephen Wiltshire Gallery