(1962 - 2016)

Brief background

Nicolene (Nikki) Swanepoel’s background as veterinarian is expressed in her artistic preoccupation with animals and human-animal interaction. 

Animals are used by humans to yield vital products like food, protective wear, transplantable organs, vaccines and tissue to save human lives, essential objects for medical research, but, more importantly, also as cultural symbols, or rather, animals are employed as vessels/bearers of human culture. Nicolene investigates how contemporary and historic human utilisation and exploitation of animals reflect similar intra-specific behaviour – how our attitudes towards animals mirror our often ‘inhumane’ attitudes to each other.

Being a physically strong, wilful woman, Nicolene was used to being subjected to gender-stereotyped discrimination – she often explores and projects this, too, in her animal imagery.

Before committing to becoming a full-time artist in 2008, she lectured in human-animal interaction and animal behaviour at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, at Onderstepoort, as well as at some European institutions.

She worked in mainly in the ceramic medium, though she hails from a painting and printmaking background.  She completed her M Tech (Fine Art) degree at the University of Johannesburg in 2008, her research project entitled Representations of Cattle as Cultural Markers Towards South African Identities

Awards include:

  • "Animals in Art", Louisiana State University, 1997.
  • "Trienalle Mondiale D'estampes Petit Format", 1994 - One of 17 prizes awarded to a total of 830 artists from 80 countries.
  • Premier Award, Ceramics South Africa’s National Exhibition, University of Johannesburg Art Gallery, 27 August – 23 September 2008.