hans waanders

Hans Waanders (Netherlands) used and subverted ‘scientific’ techniques: etymology, classification, archiving, comparison of specimens. Yet the obsessive, controlling impulse is the product of a sense of loss: a beautiful moment, remembered and sought after, opening out a lyrical narrative about memory and yearning.

Hans Waanders work is prefaced by a moment in real life, elevated to the status of a legend: ‘On October the 4th 1982 Hans Waanders saw for the first time the kingfisher along the river Maas. From that moment collecting and working out information about this bird started…. The tangible result of the longing to see the kingfisher again.’

This desire was played out during the years following, obsessively documenting the kingfisher. Like the best detective stories, Waanders allowed himself to become obsessed with the idea of getting under the skin of his ‘prey’. The more perfect his know-ledge, and the closer his identification, the closer he believed he could get.

(quotation Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; For Once, Then, Something…, 2001)

Upon his demise in 2001 Hans Waanders left behind an oeuvre of inestimable value. His estate is a universe on its own, an admirable and miraculous attempt to appropriate the kingfishers’ life. He published more than 200 books, many prints, countless stamps and multiples. It has been his wish to continue showing and offering his work to the world.

By Johan Deumens in the publication ‘Hans Waanders: a selection of available works’.


1951 Born januari 4 – Enschede, NL.
1955 Started collecting matchbox marks and cigar bands.
1963 Saw first kingfisher during a trip in Overijsel, NL.
1972 Settled in Groningen.
1975 Spent much time making watercolours at the Wad-Sea in the north of the Netherlands.
1977 Moved to ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Made a small painting of a kingfisher. Painted many detailed watercolours, with vegetation, birds and water. Saw a kingfisher along the river Amblève, Belgium
1978 A journey by bike to Arles, Corse, Sardinia, Vinci, Rome, Florence, Barcelona and Perpignan. Made drawings and wrote a diary.
1980 Journey by bike to Amiens, Wight, Stonehenge and London. Start of the trips along the river Maas near ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
1982 Diaries with waterdrawings, the names of ships and birds. Observation of a kingfisher on october 4, flying across a small pond near the river Maas. Start of the writing of “Orde: Coraciiformes-Familie: Alcedinidae”.
1983 Worked near St.Malo, France. Co-founded artists’ initiative ARTIS.
1984 First show of “Orde: Coraciiformes- Familie: Alcedinidae”, until page 136. Photographic project “In search of the kingfisher on Iceland”. Start of making books.
1985 Journey by bike to Connemara and the Aran Islands, Ireland. In search of the kingfisher at the west coast of Ireland, many drawings and photographs.
1986 Journey by bike in Portugal. In search of the kingfisher near Cabo de são Vicente. Made large books. “Kingfishers & Queens”-series.
1987 Journey by bike to prehistoric caves in northern Spain. Experiments with arm-prints: Made large images of flags and the wings of the kingfisher. “Bloody Tracks” in different versions.
1989 Experiments in woodcut. Publication of a portfolio “Three Irish rivers”. “A travel survival kit”.
1990 Saw two kingfishers along the river AA, in the centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch on february 24. Stopped with the writing of “Orde: Coraciiformes-Familie: Alcedinidae”. Found a shop “Le Martin Pecheur” along the river Seine in Paris. Saw the kingfisher in the “Garden of Delights” of Bosch, in the Prado, Madrid.
1991 Start of carving kingfisher stamps. Printed them by hand on large sheets and in books. Books: “Mobile”, and “Martin Pescador”, with Estampa, Madrid.
1992 Radio production on june, 9: “A discussion between a kingfisher and Yuri Gagarin”, broadcasted on Radio 1, NL. Books: “Gagarin” and “Icarus”.
1993 Stampwork “Compass”, directly printed on a wall of the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven. First complete show of “Orde: Coraciiformes-Familie: Alcedinidae” in ARTIS. Books: “Recognition”(with Philip Elchers, Groningen) and “La Grotte de Lascaux”
1994 Visited a kingfisher exhibition in the museum of Natural History in Denekamp, NL. Books: “Atlas”, “Inimicus-Praeda”, “Picture Index”, “The Lincoln Stamp Album”.
1995 Carving of many kingfisher stamps, later collected in books and on large prints. “Kawasemi”, with Alec Finlay, Edinburgh.
A large wall painting with kingfishers in Raleigh, USA. Saw a belted kingfisher near Pittsboro, USA. Start of the Topography-series.
1996 “Drie ijsvogels” (three kingfishers), with the School of Fine Arts, Maastricht, NL. Many kingfishers at the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden NL. Research in the library of the museum. The call of the kingfisher on bridges in Eindhoven NL. In search of the kingfisher at a trout farm in Nailsworth, England. New “Dictionary” and “Dictionnaire de pôche”
1997 Many kingfishers at the National Museum of Natural History in New York. In search of a belted kingfisher near Bloomington, USA.
Got a feather and a pellet of a kingfisher. The bills of all kingfishers, printed on paper. Books: “Correo aereo”(with Morning Star, Edinburgh), “Dagger”, “Laika”, “Kosmonaut”.
1998 Arranged a conversation between a Belted Kingfisher and a European Kingfisher. Inspection of breeding holes in De Biesbosch, NL.
Gîtes de pêche in La Creuse, France. A kingfisher at the Rau de l’Etang de Clavérolles, France. Drawings of obstacles in water. Chinese exercise books, and “Boctok” (with Morning Star, Edinburgh)
1999 Gîtes de pêche in Calvados, France. Return to the Overijsselsch kanaal, in search of the kingfisher ( 1963). Rivers and bridges at the English-Scottish border. Fishing perches in Grizedale, England. A kingfisher walk in Kentmere, England. “Edinburgh kingfishers” and “Fishing perches”, with Pont la Vue, New York.
2000 Fishing perches in Belgium and Germany. A walk in the Neanderthal, Germany Visit to prehistoric cave Font de Gaume, Dordogne, France. Fishing perches at Vézère and Auvézère, France. Many bird guides.
2001 In search of kingfishers along Yarrow Water and Ettrick Water, Scotland. Field guides in Dundee, watercolours in Edinburgh.
Publication of “Perches”.