Renown architectural artist Stephen Wiltshire will today finish a detailed panoramic drawing of Brisbane, recreated from memory having viewed the city from the ferris wheel on Southbank.
Wiltshire is able to survey a city, memorising its architectural structure & landscape, & then replicate what he’s seen onto canvas in felt tip pen. Having gained¬†worldwide acclaim for his large-scale, highly detailed drawings of many city skylines that include New York, Tokyo, Venice, London & Sydney.
Wiltshire was planning to fly over Brisbane city in a helicopter before drawing the city, however, as he explained on his¬†blog: ‚ÄúMy helicopter ride was cancelled to overcast weather, so I went on the Brisbane Wheel instead. I got to see the skyline so I could memorise it.‚Äù
A TEDxBrisbane event, in partnership with State Library of Queensland
British architectural artist Stephen Wiltshire is capturing the river city on canvas after viewing Brisbane city from the wheel at Southbank, and from the air via helicopter on Friday afternoon.
At 37 years of age, making a city come to life from the canvas is what artist Stephen Wiltshire does best. He has drawn some of the world’s most well known cities, and now Stephen has been commissioned to capture the essence of Brisbane.
Stephen began drawing at the State Library of Queensland on Saturday morning, after an early morning ride on the wheel at Southbank, and a late afternoon helicopter ride over Brisbane on Friday.
The image of Brisbane will join a collection of other iconic skylines Stephen has created in his career to date, and will be displayed at the State Library of Queensland for 6 months.
Linda Pitt Executive Manager of Learning and Participation at the State Library of Queensland says big crowds have come to watch Stephen draw across the weekend.
“The crowds have been enormous, and it’s been touching to see people celebrating while Stephen is here.
She says the State Library hope to create a digital reproduction of the image for display.
Brisbane might be the latest city to make Stephen’s impressive world city panorama collection, but it’s not Australia’s first city to be featured. In April 2010 Stephen drew¬†Sydney¬†city, to raise funds for and awareness of Autism Spectrum Australia.
And they’re not the only Australian cities Stephen has his eye on to draw.
“I’ve never been to Perth and Melbourne yet,” he says.
Although it’s his first time to the river city, it takes only a ride on the wheel at Southbank, and a short helicopter ride over the city for Stephen’s photographic memory to capture the intricate details of the Kurilpa Bridge, the Riverside expressway, and the winding Brisbane River that will ultimately feature in detail on the finished artwork.
“Brisbane in a nice place, it’s just like in London..I will draw it from memory.
“It might be easy to draw from the Brisbane wheel [view], and from the sketches from my notepad.
He says the bridges will be easy to remember, because “it’s like London Bridge.”
Stephen’s artistic talents were discovered at age five when he spoke his first words: ‘Pen and Paper’, just two years after he was diagnosed with autism.
Stephen learnt how to communicate quickly through his drawing and was discovered to have savant abilities when he began drawing distinctly accurate buildings from his home city of London. Now Stephen is considered a star among savants and is one of just a few people in the world with extraordinary ability to capture cityscapes and architecture in such detail.
His tried and true method when creating a panorama drawing of a city involves his mp3 player and an extensive playlist of everything from Motown classics to top 40 chart music, which he says makes him feel happy, just like when he’s drawing his favourite things – buildings.
“I like tall buildings because of their style. The new and modern buildings. My favourite city to draw is London and New York.
These days Stephen is rarely without his sister Annette, who travels with him to places around the world as he draws.
“We’re like any normal brother and sister. Throughout the years his autism has developed in a way that he is much more high functioning, where as in the early years there was much more screaming and frustration because he wasnt able to express himself in the way that he is now.
“It’s been a long journey, but one I won’t forget,” she says.
¬†Understanding the Autism Spectrum
¬†Autism is a complex disorder of neural development characterised by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behaviour. It is part of a spectrum that is often referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), describing the varying degrees of autism.
One in 160 Australians are on the autism spectrum, but not all of the autistic population display savant abilities like Stephen’s.
Dr James Morton from the AEIOU Foundation says that a recent study suggests that one third of boys and 10 per cent of girls may have savant traits.
“Autism is much more common with boys, and it is characteristics of the autism spectrum that allows them to be experts in what they do.
Dr Morton says savant abilities vary from artistic like Stephen’s to memory, calendar calculating, musical skills, and mechanical visual skills.