About Nicolene Swanepoel | Art.co.za | Art in South Africa
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About The Artist

Artist Photo

(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.

    Artist CV

    Born 31 March 1962


  • BAFA, UP, 1983 (Fine Arts)
  • BVSc, UP, 1991 (Veterinary Science)
  • N. Dip. Cer. TWR (2004)

    International prizes

  • "Animals in Art", Louisiana State University, 1997. JAVMA-award.
  • "Trienalle Mondiale D'estampes Petit Format", 1994. One of 17 prizes awarded to a total of 830 artists from 80 countries.

    National awards

  • The Glazecor Award, Reflections in Clay Ceramics South Africa exhibition, 2005.

    International publications on artwork

  • SWANEPOEL, N.C. 2005. Spirit Guards in South Africa. Ceramics Art and Perception. 61: 66-69.

    Work in international public collections

  • South Africa House, London.
  • Cite Internationale des Art, Paris.

    Brief list of exhibitions

  • Pretty Ponies, Ilse Schermers Art Gallery Franschhoek, October 2015
  • Little Creatures / Without Pedestals, UCT Irma Stern Museum Cape Town, November 2014
  • Spice of Life, Gallerie Grande Province, Franschoek, August 2006.
  • Nguni Vessels, Core 44 Stanley Avenue, Johannesburg, July 2006.
  • FNB Craft Now, National exhibition, Durban, July 2006.
  • Reflections in Clay Ceramics South Africa exhibition, 9 - 25 October 2005, Association of Arts, Pretoria.
  • CSA (Ceramics South Africa) display, Decorex, August 2005, Johannesburg.
  • June 2005: Past Students, Present Work, Exhibition of selected alumni of the Ceramic Design Department of the Technikon of the Witwatersrand, Arts Association, Pretoria.
  • Far and Wide, curated by Gordon Froud, ABSA gallery, Johannesburg, 6 - 21 April 2005.
  • Core, Stanley Road 44, Johannesburg February - March 2005.
  • Animals as Metaphor, 19 February to 20 May 2005, University of South Africa.
  • Een Honderd Honde, Bamboo, October 2004. One person show, installation of just over one hundred ceramic sculptures.
  • Spaza Art, “Dogs and Cats”, September 2004.
  • Capital Park Art Route, September 2004.
  • “Celebrating Ceramics”, annual national exhibition of Ceramics South Africa, Pretoria Art Museum, September 2004.
  • “Intersections 2”, Grahamstown Arts Festival, July 2004.
  • “Art on Paper”, Spaza Art gallery, Johannesburg, March 2003.
  • December 2003: Animals And other Creatures, Spier Estate, Western Cape.
  • On the Wall Off the Wall, Apsa regional exhibition, SAAA, Pta, November 2004
  • Accepted for the APSA Triennial, August 2003.
  • August 2002: African Earth, Museum Africa.
  • February 2002: Group exhibition about dogs, Tina Skukan Gallery, Pretoria.
  • August 2001: Major exhibition at the Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch.
  • July 2001: Four works exhibited at an exhibition on horses in art, Equus, at the South African Arts Association, Pretoria.
  • Group exhibition touring Canada (South African Graphic Guild), 2000.
  • Silkscreen prints exhibited in two group exhibitions in Pretoria (Garden of Eden, State Theatre, and Red Riding Hood at the SAAA) in 2000.
  • International biennial of small format print Leskovac, Yugoslavia, 1999.
  • South African Graphic Art, University of Pretoria “Old Art Gallery”, October 1999.
  • Photographic exhibition of Pets and People, Prague, September 1999.
  • Group exhibition, Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch, 1998.
  • Group exhibition: The Spirit and Images of Africa, June 1998, South African Arts Association, Pretoria.
  • Award-winning graphics exhibition (40 serigraphs) in Volvic, France, November 1997. This exhibition toured France until 1999.
  • Two paintings exhibited during April at the Tenth annual exhibition "Animals in Art", Louisiana State University, 1997. One won the JAVMA-award, and was published on the cover of The Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association.
  • Space to Breathe, Pretoria Art Museum, 1996.
  • Solo exhibition at South African Arts Association, Pretoria, 1995.
  • Won an award in an international graphic art exhibition, the "Trienalle Mondiale D'estampes Petit Format", one of 17 prizes awarded to a total of 830 artists from 80 countries, 1994.
  • Paris, France. Exhibition of 50 paintings at the Cité Internationale Des Arts.
  • Six month sojourn at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France, October 1993 - April 1994.
  • London, England. Two person exhibition with ceramist André Hess, South Africa House, 1993.
  • Dr Albert Werth's invitation exhibition of Three Decades of Pretoria Artists, Pretoria Art Museum, 1992.
  • Group exhibition, Gallery on the Market, Johannesburg, 1991.
  • 4 Woman exhibition, Gallery on the Market, Johannesburg, with Lauryn Arnot, Erica Hibbert and Suzanne du Toit, 1990.
  • 4 Person exhibition, South African Arts Association, Pretoria, with Francois Swanepoel, Hansie Visage and Pierre van der Westhuizen, 1988.
  • Atelier exhibition, South African Arts Association, Pretoria, 1987.
  • 2 Person exhibition with photographer, Francois Swanepoel, Pretoria, 1986.
  • Women's Festival of Arts, Johannesburg, Carraigehouse and Natalie Knight galleries, Johannesburg, 1985.
  • New Signatures, Pretoria, 1984.