— Stephen Wiltshire (@StWiltshire) October 14, 2017
Over the years, we’ve seen some fantastic drawings, maps, and homages to New York City. But one of the most recent additions to the collection is notable for more than a few reasons: Stephen Wiltshire, a British architectural artist, drew the entire skyline of New York City – completely from memory. As seen in The New York Times’ “The Daily 360,” Wiltshire took a 45 minute helicopter ride over the city, and then spent the next five days creating an incredibly detailed, and unbelievably accurate drawing of the entire skyline, in front of an audience.
Wiltshire’s drawing isn’t just of the skyline though – individual windows on buildings are depicted, as are smaller buildings only visible through the gaps between other buildings. The skyline was drawn at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn from October 26 to 30. Eventually, the exhibit will be moved to Wiltshire’s permanent gallery in London, at London’s Royal Opera Arcade, just a few steps away from Trafalgar Square, and the National Gallery.
Wiltshire, 43, has grown in popularity over the years for his ability to draw and recreate vividly accurate cityscapes after only seeing the subject once. He’s traveled the world, drawing cityscapes of Mexico City, Paris, Barcelona, Houston, among many others. He was actually made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2006. In addition to that, he’s also been the subject of documentaries, on magazine covers, and more – neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote about Wiltshire more than once, and the two were good friends.
Born in London, he was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, and didn’t speak until the age of five. It was when he attended school that they found he communicated and understood with the world around him through art – specifically drawing. It was through his teachers actually taking away his art supplies, which forced him to ask for them back, that he eventually started speaking. His first word was actually “paper.” In the “Daily 360,” it was explained that creating this kind of work has helped Wiltshire “to form a relationship that he has between pen and paper, and also an understanding of the cities that we live in.”
Next, check out how the film Lost Landscapes of New York Resurrects NYC’s Past.