Opening his Royal Opera Arcade gallery the same year as he was awarded an MBE for services to art, the architectural artist Stephen Wiltshire shares his favourite local spots after ten years in St James's.
Stephen Wiltshire is an artist who draws and paints detailed cityscapes. Wiltshire has a particular talent for drawing lifelike, accurate representations of cities, after having only observed them briefly.
His work is popular all over the world and held in a number of important collections. He was awarded an MBE for services to the art world in 2006.
As a child Wiltshire was mute, and did not relate to other people. Aged three, he was diagnosed as autistic and had no language and lived entirely in his own world. At five, Wiltshire was sent to Queensmill School in London, where it soon became apparent he communicated with the world through the language of drawing; first animals, then London buses, and finally buildings. These drawings showed a masterful perspective, a whimsical line, and revealed a natural innate artistry.
I like to draw cities. Cities are beautiful, the skylines... the high rise buildings! I have been drawing my whole life and have travelled all over the world showing my representation of what I see. People see the world through my eyes. I take a helicopter ride and see the city and make sketches in my A4 pad.
I am from London and my gallery is in the Royal Opera Arcade. I celebrated the gallery’s 10 year anniversary with an in-store signing. People came to say hello and asked me to sign drawings and postcards. I like to draw everyday – buildings, taxis, buses – and I draw people in my sketchpad. Sometimes my sister suggests buildings in London that I haven’t sketched before.
I love the local area near the gallery, my favourite places are The Mall, Jermyn Street and The Ritz Hotel, and my favourite lunch spot is the sandwich shop in the Royal Opera Arcade. The Mall is a nice street area – everything is uniformed and in line. Trees line the road and I like the details with the Union Jack flags. It was brilliant to watch the Battle of Britain 75th anniversary flypast on The Mall recently and I like watching the Royal parades and celebrations. There is always something happening with lots of people.
In 2012, I decided to update the London Alphabet Series. This includes The Ritz Hotel on a poster. The building is very classic with good features and details. It’s very grand! My work has lots of information: I will include the correct number of windows, shadows and features. I often draw in my studio at the gallery from memory but also like to wander off and challenge my mind with the new developments happening in London. Sometimes I just listen to music: it helps me to focus and zone in.
London Library would be a great place to sit and capture St James's Square. I often sit in St James’s Square. It’s very nice with classic buildings and it's a good place to take my sketchbook.