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Nicolene Swanepoel initially worked as a painter and printmaker. She won several international awards, including an award for serigraphy (1994), one of 17 prizes out of 830 artists from 80 countries). A qualified veterinarian, Nikki lectured on animal behaviour and human-animal interaction at Onderstepoort. This animal passion features in her art, witnessed in an installation of one hundred ceramic dogs (2004). Her Fine Art Master's degree (2008) culminated in an installation of a ‘herd' of ceramic cattle heads, each one uniquely embellished with South African historical and cultural icons. A similar, smaller installation won her the premier award in the CSA national exhibition in 2008.