Kalamana Papalum | Latest Work

F.M.I. Sisters of Vunapope

Australian War Memorial Commission (2018-2020)

At the risk of their own lives, the F.M.I. Sisters dedicated themselves to providing locally grown produce to Australian, European and Unserdeutsch children who were held captive at Ramale prisoner of war camp for almost three years. As an Australian War Memorial commissioned artist, Lisa chose to highlight war histories relating to women, in particular Papua New Guinean women. Photographed inside the liberated camp in 1945, twelve F.M.I. Sisters are veiled and adorned with flowers that reference some of the seventeen nationalities among the 300 civilians whom they helped keep alive at Ramale during the Second World War. Forty-five hand embroidered black cinctures honour their efforts and make visible the names of the F.M.I. Sisters. This artwork is now part of the Australian War Memorial national collection.

F.M.I. Sisters of Vunapope (2020). Framed and mounted inkjet print on cotton rag 970 mm  x 1150 mm.
Detail of 45 black cotton cinctures. Australian wool yarn embroidery by Lisa Hilli and Eddy Carroll. Approximately 4 meters x 3.5cm – 4cm

Media & Reviews

Australian War Memorial Blog

Pacific Beat ABC

The New Outrigger

Sisterhood Lifeline

Sisterhood Lifeline explores the visibility and invisibility of black women’s bodies in cultural institutions in Australia. Drawing from her personal and professional experiences of working in a museum; a colonial institution, Lisa’s support networks with women and non-binary people of colour literally became her sisterhood lifeline – a phrased borrowed from Areej Nur, a Melbourne based writer and media producer.

In this work Lisa aims to capture the importance of safe cultural spaces in her personal life and professional working life and how relationships with indigenous folks both inside and outside of the institution became crucial to her survival of working in a museum. Ongoing nuanced experiences of microaggressions, direct and indirect racism, colonial erasure and amnesia of historical museum practices relating to collections compound to create a damaging and toxic environment for black and brown bodies culturally and spiritually.

A creative response to institutional racism, the works were photographed in Lisa’s former workplace of Museums Victoria. One set of images portrays black women of colour boldly taking up space and holding space for each other, institutionally, yet defiantly show that not all cultural knowledge and exchange is available or privy to the public. Our bodies are not expendable.

The alternate set of images speak to the ‘coping mechanisms’ of trying to blend in and not stick out in the institution. A strategy Lisa imitated when she first began to work at the museum, whilst carefully navigating collegial workplace relationships of power, representational narratives of Papua New Guinean / Melanesian peoples held by museums historically.

Commissioned for The Commute exhibition at Institute of Modern Art.

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A Tinata Tuna (Tolaisphere) exhibition text, Lisa Hilli & Léuli Eshraghi

Sisterhood Lifeline 2018, latex ink on wallpaper, inkjet prints on cotton rag, office partitions, iMac, office telephone with vocal recordings, books, Post It Notes, pen, swivel chair.


The Commute, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane 2018-19

Transits & Returns, Vancouver Art Gallery 2019-20

Media & Reviews



Installation photography Markus Ravik and Carl Warner 2018

Trade & Transformation

Solo Exhibition Blak Dot Gallery 2018

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 and merchant traders for building rapport with indigenous people of the land. Through her solo exhibition, 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.


Two women facing the future, Duke of York Islands. (Where the First Missionary landed and first mission, Port Hunter, c.1882)

1000 mm x 733 mm, pigment print on cotton rag, glass beads, cotton thread. 2018. Photographer Reverend R. H. Rickard. Image courtesy of the Mitchell Library, State Library NSW and Uniting Church in Australia – Assembly. (Reference ON 305 / 547).

Value Systems

Glass beads, nylon coated wire, Deutsche mark, British Papua schillings, Papua New Guinea Kina coins, stone crosses, photo locket, archival photographs. Dimensions variable, 2018.

Material Histories #1

Single channel HD video, audio. 1 min 47 seconds. Dimensions variable. 2015

Material Histories #3

(4 channel HD video) presented as single channel, audio, 8 mins 47 seconds. Dimensions variable. 2015

A Niaring Kai Kada Luluai (The Lords Prayer)

Vinyl text transcribed from photograph by Reverend R. H. Rickard, Image courtesy of the Mitchell Library, State Library NSW and Uniting Church in Australia – Assembly. (Reference ON 305/552)


Nassa shells, cane. Artists’ collection


Blak Dot Gallery 2018

Dress Code Museum of Brisbane

Media & Reviews

Dress Code Review – Artlink, Ann Finegan

Exhibition & Artist interview – Blak Dot Gallery


Collective of labourer’s & beaders: Cathy Hilli, Léuli Eshraghi, Eddy Carroll, Pauline Vetuna, Kevin Murray, Kim Kruger, Savanna Kruger, Kalissa Alexeyeff, Travis Cox, Kirsten Lyttle, Aunty Lila Heimann, Tray Hudson, Gina Ropiha, Talava Tuhipa-Turner, Jacinta Crocker.

Thank you to Kimba Thompson, Blak Dot Gallery and Testing Grounds for supporting the development of this work during an artist residency called Trade Stories  in January 2018. A part of the research of this exhibition was supported by a Museums Victoria 1854 scholarship in 2016.


Selected Exhibitions


Transits & Returns, Vancouver Art Gallery

Capital Ballarat International Foto Biennale


Dress Code Museum of Brisbane

The Commute Institute of Modern Art Brisbane

Mother Tongue Gertrude Contemporary Melbourne

Melbourne Art Fair presented by Blak Dot Gallery

Trade & Transformation solo exhibition, Blak Dot Gallery


An Unorthodox Flow of Images Centre for Contemporary Photography

A Bit Na Ta: Story of the Gunantuna Melbourne Museum


No 1 Neighbour:  Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016 Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

Fifty Shades of Blak Blak Dot Gallery

Solomon Islands: Re-enchantment and the Colonial Shadow Anthropology Museum, University of Queensland

Weaving Worlds Australian Tapestry Workshop


Vai Niu Wai Niu Coconut Water Caboolture Regional Art Gallery

Embodied Spaces Framer Framed, Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam

Where We’re At! Other voices on gender Bozar, Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels


Meleponi Pasifika Indonesian Contemporary Arts Network, Yogyakarta

Meleponi Pasifika Contemporary Festival of Pacific Arts, Footscray


2016 Best Use of Natural Light, CCP Salon, Centre for Contemporary Photography

2016 Best Visual Arts – Melbourne Fringe Festival, Fifty Shades of Blak participating artist

2016 Museums Victoria 1854 Scholarship

Artist Residencies

2019 Helsinki International Artist Program – Australia Council Artist in Residence

2018 Testing Grounds, Melbourne

2015 Australian Tapestry Workshop

2008 University of Goroka, Papua New Guinea


2016 Masters of Fine Art by Research RMIT University

2008 Bachelor of Fine Arts RMIT University