Installation view of Marcos Guzman’s work on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.    Image: Tom Ross

Marcos Guzman

Marcos Guzman
(b. 1986, Australia. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Marcos Guzman is a contemporary jeweller who transforms industrial materials through hand-making techniques and slow processes, revealing unexpected preciousness in everyday materials. His introspective and contemplative practice uses jewellery-making as a means for remembering, exploring and escaping, and is often catalysed by stories, dialogues and conversations.

For Melbourne Now, Guzman presents two new neckpieces based on his 2022 collection Strange birds go out into the evening, inspired by the habits and behaviours of people in the late-night hours. When the artist leaves his city studio, he often finds himself on night walks, becoming fascinated by the atmospheric contrasts between neon signage and dark laneways, quiet weekdays and raucous weekends. One such evening, he began imagining the city’s inhabitants as birds. ‘Some were socialising, scavenging and collecting, some were hunting and surviving, and some just quietly observing’, he explains. The resulting neckpieces play with juxtapositions of light/shadow, colour/monochrome and energy/stillness.

The series is part of Guzman’s ongoing experiments with plastic straws, which he layers to create tonal and pattern variations. Neckpiece I uses beads made from drinking straws, which are cut, slotted together and overlaid to create sufficient tension, thickness and strength. Neckpiece II uses fewer components, which are flattened through a rolling mill in a lamination-like process. Using combinations of transparent and opaque materials, Guzman’s neckpieces are all unique, revealing surprising luminosity and hues in a ubiquitous item considered problematic in an over-plasticised world. As drinking straws are phased out, Guzman reconfigures them as a valuable resource in jewellery making.

Guzman held his first solo show at Gallery Funaki in 2019, after being a finalist in the inaugural Mari Funaki Award for Contemporary Jewellery (2014) and appearing in their exhibition 5×7: Early Career Australian Makers (2016). He has been a finalist in the Victorian Craft Awards (2022), was selected for the NGV’s Business of Design Week in Hong Kong (2018) and exhibited at Galerie Noël Guyomarc’h in Montreal as part of Aurora Australis (2018). After completing a Bachelor of Fine Art (Gold and Silversmithing) at RMIT University (2010) and Honours in Object Based Practice (2013), he was selected for Craft’s Fresh! graduate show (2014). His work has also been acquired by the Art Gallery of Western Australia.