Ina orou | Connect

Born in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, Lisa spent her early years crawling around her family village. She slept in hand woven bilums that swung from the trees, whilst her Tolai mother worked in the garden. A love child of Australia and Papua New Guinea’s relationship, Lisa migrated with her family to live in Australia with her Finnish, English and Coloured South African father in 1981.

Early influences of her arts practice formed during her tender years living on Yuggera country, in the culturally and linguistically diverse western suburbs of Brisbane. As a child Lisa spent hours in her bedroom paper collaging mock cassette album covers for her mixtapes, experimenting with jewellery and adornment and obsessively watching music videos on Australian television music show Rage.

It was Lisa’s science teacher Mr Braun, who introduced her to darkroom photography during secondary school. Peering through the viewfinder of a Pentax K1000 SLR for the first time, Lisa sensed a natural affinity in what has become an enduring creative relationship. Today Lisa uses photography as the foundation of her practice and intertwines the mediums of video, sound and textiles within artworks to communicate poignant and powerful ideas visually, whilst revealing lesser known and overlooked histories.

Living and working on Wurundjeri country in Melbourne for the last twenty years has allowed Lisa’s practice to thrive. Lisa holds a BFA and MFA from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University. Her artwork is exhibited regularly in international and Australian cultural institutions. She has been commissioned by the Institute of Modern Art and the Australian War Memorial and been awarded a photographic prize from the Centre for Contemporary Photography.

Research is a cornerstone of her practice, within archives and most importantly, with Melanesian elders and cultural knowledge holders. Through her Masters research Lisa revived and remade a historical body adornment worn by Gunantuna men, a Midi (Middi), the first to be made in 100 years. Lisa is currently pursuing photographic history research through a PhD program in the School of Culture, History & Language, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University.

Lisa is an experienced museum professional and has previously worked as a Collection Manager and Experience Developer for Museums Victoria.  She consults and advises museum professionals both locally in Australia and internationally in the curation and content development of exhibitions and cultural frameworks that centre indigenous and source community perspectives relating to Papua New Guinea. Lisa is a member of Powerhousegalang, an international indigenous think tank for the Powerhouse Museum. She is also a member of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Oceania Working Party, supporting the telling of Pacific lives in Australia.

Lisa still lives and loves working on Wurundjeri country.

Photographer Atong Atem




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