Reframing Colonial Histories

Re-contextualising collections through contemporary art

Lisa Hilli

Artist, researcher and descendant of the Gunantuna people, Lisa Hilli will share insights and outcomes of her creative practice inspired by museum and archival collections from Papua New Guinea.

The arrival of Europeans and new materials to Papua New Guinea in the late 19th century had transformative effects upon the culture and practices of the Gunantuna (Tolai) people. Trade cloth and glass beads can be found embedded within museum collection items across the Pacific region – evidence of a colonial mechanism used to build trust and rapport during a hostile time. In 2016, artist and researcher Lisa Hilli received an 1854 Museums Victoria Scholarship. Her interest in gender, body adornment and cultural transformation, led her to create a new body of artwork referencing the Museums Victoria collections made by Tolai people.

Recording to follow.


Lisa Hilli is a Gunantuna (Tolai) woman working in the First Peoples Department at Museums Victoria. Her creative practice references and prioritises Indigenous knowledge and matrilineal systems to subvert colonial narratives contained within ethnographic and archival material. Lisa is currently working as an Experience Developer for the Te Pasifika Gallery redevelopment.

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