Artist Statement

I am interested in creating a succinct language between photography, video and textiles. My motivation to combine these mediums through chosen themes is driven by the visceral experience that tactility has upon human beings. Researching and remaking historical body adornment leads to re-contextualised contemporary forms through woven or crafted objects, which are photographed against the body.

Through my practice I reference and prioritise Indigenous knowledge and matrilineal systems to subvert colonial and Western histories contained with ethnographic and archival material. The representation of the black (Melanesian) female body and the politics of hair are ongoing themes that allow me to explore, combine and disrupt the confines of photographic and textile practices.


Lisa Hilli is a contemporary artist living on the lands of the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung tribal / language groups of Narrm (Melbourne) Australia. Born in Rabaul, Lisa is a descendant of the Makurategete Vunatarai (clan) Tolai / Gunantuna people of Papua New Guinea.  She received a Masters of Fine Art by Research degree from RMIT University. Several artworks created during her MFA were presented in the No 1 Neighbour: Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016 exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery. Lisa was also a participating artist for A Bit Na Ta: Source of the sea, an audio-visual installation commissioned by the Queensland Art Gallery for the same exhibition.

Lisa’s work has been presented internationally at Framer Framed Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, Indonesian Contemporary Art Network Yogyakarta and BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts Brussels. She has been an artist in residence at the Australian Tapestry Workshop and was awarded a photographic prize for the Centre for Contemporary Photography Salon exhibition. Professionally Lisa has given presentations at the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria International and College Art Association Annual Conference, New York City. She has been a Melbourne Festival Cultural Ambassador, a co founder and advisor for the Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival and a participant in the 2016 Emerging Leaders Dialogue – a flagship event for the Australia-Papua New Guinea Network, Lowy Institute. Currently Lisa is a Museums Victoria 1854 Scholar undertaking a research project within Australian museums and public institution archives.

 Download: Artist CV

Current Projects

A Bit Na Ta: The source of the sea

Melbourne Museum, September 2017


Project developed through Wantok Musik Foundation

GEORGE TELEK (Musician, Rabaul PNG)

DAVID BRIDIE (Artistic director, Music Producer, Melbourne  Australia)

GIDEON KAKABIN (Project historian/Cultural Artist, Rabaul PNG)

KEITH DEVERELL (Video Artist, Hobart Australia)

With additional works by LISA HILLI (Visual artist, Rabaul PNG/Melbourne Australia)


a Bit na Ta is a project located in ples (place): Rabaul, East New Britain, PNG. Specially commissioned for the exhibition No 1 Neighbour: Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016 at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, the project engages with the enormous changes that have washed over the century 1875-1975 from the perspective of the Tolai peoples who inhabit the lands surrounding it. Central to the Tolai community’s capacity to survive the disruptions of shifting colonial powers, war, volcanic eruptions and independence struggles, marking this period was the strength and importance of their Tubuan society. Perhaps best known to the uninitiated through the iconic birdlike Dukduk and Tubuans, the highly secretive and complex Tubuan society continues to play a significant role in Tolai spiritual and everyday life; its edicts governing relationships to land, resources and people (ancestral and present).

No.1 Neighbour: Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016, Queensland Art Gallery
Opening weekend Image: QAGOMA

Music is also essential to Tolai life and ceremony and the a Bit na Ta story is presented via new recordings of singsing tumbuna (ceremonial song), string band, lotu choir style and contemporary soundscapes supported with archival film and new footage of the landscape and ceremony. a Bit na Ta builds upon a 30-year collaboration between celebrated Tolai musician George Telek and Australian musician, composer and producer David Bridie who have drawn on their Tolai wantok (family) and friends including historian and artist Gideon Kakabin to tell the a Bit na Ta story. In Kakabin’s words:

A Bit na Ta. The source of the sea. Life begins here.

A tinata
Marmari aria bit na ta
I valu e
Ra oaga na pipi
The words
come from inside the sea
he paddles
his canoe, a boat of lightening

a Bit Na Ta is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.




Media & Weblinks

There is magic and energy around the gathering of artists

Author Ruth McDougall Curator, Pacific Art. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Blog 11th November 2016

Lisa Hilli installing a Midi No.1 Neighbour : Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016 Exhibition no. 2016.11
Queensland Art Gallery
Photograph: M.Sherwood QAGOMA ©

Blog – READ

Artist Talk – Lisa Hilli QAGOMA TV



1854 Museum Victoria Scholarship Recipient 2016

Dr Robin Hirst with Miss Lisa Hilli
Dr Robin Hirst with Miss Lisa Hilli 1854 student scholarship recipient. Image Source and © Museum Victoria, photographer Benjamin Heally.

 Weblink – READ 

Lisa Hilli & Eddy Carrol Australian Tapestry Workshop Artist in Residence Talk

 Artist calls for community consultation when displaying culturally sensitive artefacts – ABC | Radio Australia

Radio Australia ABC

Listen to AUDIO