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. Through my research, I remake historical body adornment or re-enact historical events to create and acquire an embodied understanding, this leads to re-contextualised contemporary outcomes through woven or crafted objects, the use of the body in photography, video, soundscapes and installation.

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. Through gender discourses I often explore the theme of visibility and invisibility through landscape and social environments.


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

All content including images and text on this website is copyright of the artist, unless stated otherwise. For all reproductions or image usage of any artistic or intellectual content on this website, Prior permission is to be granted by the artist.

Current Projects & Exhibitions

Trade & Transformation solo exhibition | Blak Dot Gallery

Trade beads or slave beads, were used globally by European colonists as a mechanism for the exploitation of labour and goods, they were also used by missionaries for building rapport with indigenous people of the land. Artist Lisa Hilli explores the impacts and transformative effect that trade beads had upon her own people the Tolai / Gunantuna, during a precarious and hostile era of the late 1800’s and how materiality became a language, which was understood and valued by all.

Opening night 6 – 8pm, 24th May 2018

Blak Dot Gallery 33 Saxon Street Brunswick Victoria

Gallery Hours: 12-4pm Thursday – Sunday

Artist talk: Saturday 1:30 – 2:30pm, 9th June 2018


Embodied Histories: Returning the midi to the Tolai | Garland Magazine Issue 9

“A magazine that uses the garland as a focus to encourage a dialogue across the Asia Pacific about the objects that give our lives meaning” Garland Magazine’s latest issue focuses on craft and creative practice across Moana / Wan Solwara or the great Pacific Ocean. I was honoured to share my personal, cultural and spiritual journey of remaking of a midi (shell collar). The quarterly essay is for subscribers, all other articles within the issue are accessible to read.

George Telek performing at the Museums Victoria launch of the multimedia installation and exhibition a Bit na Ta (the source of the sea): The Story of the Gunantuna. Photographer: Andy Drewit. Source Museums Victoria

Trade Stories Residency | Testing Grounds

Trade Stories is an invitation to listen and share the history of materials exchanged and traded between Pacific Islander and European people during the 19th Century. As artist in residence, I am requesting ‘collective labour’ to thread a vast amount beads to develop a site responsive work. Invited guests and I will retell the historical tales of trade, economic exploitation, cultural change and the building of colonial empires embedded within these small items known historically as trade beads.

Material Histories #3 video still © Lisa Hilli

Residency days: 11th – 27th January 2018 (Thursday, Friday & Saturdays only)

Time: 10am – 5pm

Testing Grounds

1 City Road, Southbank


Free event | All ages

An Unorthodox Flow of Images Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne Festival 30th September – 12th November

In a bind 2015 © Lisa Hilli

My artwork In a bind has been selected into this unorthodox curation of photographic works by Naomi Cass and Pippa Milne as part of Melbourne Festival’s visual art program. More info here.

There’s also a swathe of public programs to support the show.  I’m speaking on a panel Codes of Practice: Indigenous subjects and Indigenous photographers chaired by Stephen Gilchrist.

Thursday 02 November 6-8pm

RSVP for seating rsvp@ccp.org.au


 a Bit na Ta: Story of the Gunantuna | Bunjilaka Melbourne Museum

September 2017 – February 2018

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







Melbourne Museum


Media & Weblinks

Artist Interview, Trade & Transformation Solo exhibition, Blak Dot Gallery


Socially Conditioned Hair Life Matters, Radio National, ABC


Misis, Social Conditoner Series 2015. © Lisa Hilli

Listen – AUDIO


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