Lisa Hilli is a contemporary artist based in Narrm (Melbourne) Australia. Born in Rabaul, Lisa is a descendent of the Makurategete Vunatarai (clan), Tolai people of Papua New Guinea. Lisa’s artistic practice and research investigates and re-contextualises historical material culture related to the body, the subversion of colonial and Western histories within ethnographic and archival material, the representation of the black (Melanesian) female body and the politics of hair.
Lisa attained a Bachelor of Fine Art with distinction in 2007 at RMIT University. Her first solo exhibition Just Like Home a multi-layered video, sculptural installation based around Tolai cooking practices was presented as part of Next Wave Festival in 2008. In 2009, Lisa undertook a 4-week artist residency at the University of Goroka supported by Australia Council for the Arts grant to gain a better understanding of Papua New Guinean art, artists and literature. In 2010 Just Like Home toured nationally around Australia supported by Kultour, which included a cultural exchange with Yolgnu fibre artists based on Elcho Island, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. This experience of working with Indigenous Australian women alongside her mother, significantly influenced the course of Lisa’s practice. In the same year Lisa also discovered a historical regal body adornment, a Midi, relevant to Tolai people held within the Pacific Collections of the Australia Museum in Sydney.
In 2012 Lisa was a co-producer and facilitator of Wantok Stori – a collaborative filmmaking project with young people in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Wea Nao Mi? (Where Am I?) A 7-minute narrative film was created and screened as part of the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands. Continuing with community projects, Lisa co-initiated another filmmaking project in 2013, Story Weavers, working with Pacific youth and elders living in Melbourne. The outcome was a short 10 minute film called Pearl, which has screened nationally around Australia, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and was acquired by the American Asian Pacific Studies Program, Arizona State University.
Lisa’s long awaited enquiry into Tolai Midi commenced in 2014 through a Masters of Fine Art by Research. This extensive research was completed in 2016 and is available in RMIT University Research Repository. Five of her artworks created during her MFA were presented in the No 1 Neighbour: Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016 at the Queensland Art Gallery. During this time period, Lisa’s work was presented internationally at Framer Framed Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, Indonesian Contemporary Art Network Yogyakarta and BOZAR Contemporary Centre for Fine Arts Brussels. Professionally Lisa has given presentations at the National Gallery of Australia, International Gallery of Victoria and College of 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 Papua New Guinea Network, Lowy Institute. Currently Lisa is a Museums Victoria 1854 Scholar undertaking a research project, Revealing Reverend Rickard.
Download: Artist Resume