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


 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