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The birth of an artist

Atan of Kea

Judith Vanistendael

Atan lives around five thousand years ago in the Cyclades, a Greek island group. The quiet, introverted boy has an extraordinary gift for modelling clay. His parents realise that he can’t live without his art and send him to the island of Naxos, where he’s trained to be a marble sculptor. There the boy is forced to abandon his creativity to concentrate on skill and technique, until his master recognises that Atan’s muse must not be silenced.

A tender tale, chronicling the ever-complex quest of an adolescent boy coming of age

Judith Vanistendael took her inspiration for this book from a small Cycladic statue at the Louvre. Atan’s development isn’t just that of an artist exploring his craft, but also that of a boy finding his place in the world. It’s a touching and intimate story, and for the first time Vanistendael illustrates it with drawings that are fully digital, but with the graceful, flowing style we’ve come to expect from her. ‘Atan of Kea’ proves, yet again, that Vanistendael is a peerless story-teller.

Very playful. The drawings flit across the page, with the lines looking as spirited as the protagonist himself. A fascinating next step in her oeuvre
Visualised in Vanistendael’s distinctive style, this is a gracefully poetic portrayal that really brings out the intimate human interactions
De Poort