22 April 2008

UK Artist Stephen Wiltshire’s Giant Canvas on Display at DIFC

Dubai, April 22 2008: Visitors to the Dubai International Financial Centre will be able to marvel at the panoramic Dubai canvas by world renowned UK artist Stephen Wiltshire; a gifted painter with severe autism who managed to take a mental snapshot of the city after a mere 30 minute helicopter ride.

As part of Dubai’s support for autism awareness, His Highness Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of The Dubai Culture and Arts Authority has met with Wiltshire and signed the Dubai canvas.

Work on Wiltshire’s latest piece, on display at the DIFC throughout the month of April began on Tuesday when he took a 30-minute helicopter ride from Festival City to Jumeirah Beach Hotel, past Palm Jumeirah and back along Sheikh Zayed Road. He proceeded to begin with his pencil drawing on Wednesday at 11am in DIFC.

His Excellency Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Managing Director of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and Governor of the DIFC stated: “April 2 was World Autism Day, but here in Dubai, we are dedicating the entire month of April to spread awareness about what is potentially the most threatening mental condition for children these days. Wiltshire is a testament to the fact that sometimes we can make miracles out of mishaps. His eye for detail and incredible retention powers are on display at the DIFC for all to see. The canvas is also a reminder of the power and prowess of a determined man.”

Dubai joins the list of major cities that Wiltshire has captured on his giant canvases; among other international destinations, he has already recreated panoramas of Tokyo, London and Rome.

Diagnosed with Autism at the mere age of three, Wiltshire was unable to speak until he was seven. His talent on canvas stemmed after a tragic accident that took away his father; and he found that that only a pencil and paper would calm his tantrums.

Wiltshire, who will be 34 later this month, has been awarded an MBE for his services to art. He is known as a “savant”, a man trapped in his own private world but with an exceptional talent, said to be one of only 100 diagnosed throughout the world.

His completed sketch of Dubai will be auctioned off to raise money for the Dubai Autism Centre’s new state-of-the-art centre in Garhoud. The money will enable the centre to offer more services to autistic children and their parents, gradually increasing the current enrolment from 42 to 140 youngsters.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that usually presents itself in the first three years of life. It can come in a variety of forms and affects the areas of developmental, social and communication skills.

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