Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Memory Man

Stephen Wiltshire was born in London on 24th April, 1974. When he was three years old, he was diagnosed as autistic. He had no language, could not control his emotions and lived entirely in his own world.

At the age of five, Stephen was sent to Queensmill School in London, a school for children with special needs. Teachers soon saw that 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 natural capacity for art. When he was eight, Stephen saw in a schoolbook pictures of an earthquake, and started drawing cities after the effects of imaginary earthquakes. He drew most of the major London landmarks.

His teachers at Queensmill School wanted to encourage him to speak, so they temporarily took away his art materials. Stephen then spoke his first word - "paper." He learned to speak fully at the age of nine.
Stephen has appeared in various documantaries since he was a child. In one of them, in 2001, he flew over London by helicopter and drew a detailed and illustration of it from the air in three hours; his drawing included many monuments. He has also drawn Tokyo, Rome, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. (adapted from Wiltshire's site

He is right now in Madrid. During this week, he has flown by helicopter over the city centre, and is currently working on one of his drawings. You can see him from the 4th to the 8th of February at the Palacio de los Deportes.

You can also visit his website gallery, at
or see some videos at

(see also the El País article, in Spanish Stephen el Memorioso)