Date:October 21, 2020

A Whole New World Built Inside Vintage Ring Boxes By Curtis Talwst Santiago

Years ago, Canadian-Trinidadian artist Talwst (née Curtis Santiago) was challenged by a Parisian flea market vendor to transform an old ring box into a piece of art. According to The Guardian, Talwst fashioned a tiny diorama of a woman bathing in the ocean. This work inspired him to create an ongoing series of small-scale landscapes inside reclaimed jewelry cases.

Ornate jewelry boxes set the stage for tiny painted scenes filled with nearly-microscopic human figurines. The boxes are meticulously crafted by Canadian-Trinidadian artist Talwst, who uses mixed media to explore the narrative of art history in combination with elements of contrasting cultures. Although his vintage boxes may cast an ancient light on the scene, the boxes encapsulate a present-day cultural commentary through their arrangements.

Talwst collects the discarded boxes from fans, antique stores, and online marketplaces. The CBC writes that his minute scenes are inspired by pop culture, current events, and art history, as well as his own memories. Check out a few of Talwst’s fanciful creations below, or visit his website and Instagram account for more information on the Toronto-based mixed media artist.

More info: | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

#1  – Errrybody loves McDonald’s looks at a combination of two points in history: one, when there was a lack of technology and life, was slower paced and the golden age of the golden arches.

These tiny and intricate dioramas examining history first came about when the artist TALWST was challenged by a Parisian street vendor to make something with an old ring box. And, as The Guardian reported, the Canadian-Trinidadian creator is still hunting for ring boxes at antique markets and on eBay seven years later. In the March interview, TALWST told the newspaper, “I want the viewer to open the box and feel they have been transported to another world.”

TALWST told The Guardian that El Torero is an homage to one of his favorite painters, Edouard Manet’s La Muerte del Torero.


Talwst: “This is inspired by a roommate who was obsessed with conspiracy theorist David Icke, who believes that the Rockefellers and Rothschilds are extraterrestrials. I don’t subscribe to Icke’s theories.” Author: Talwst.

The Daguerre and Bouton Diorama illusions differ somewhat from the modern dioramas that we are familiar with today, the often intricate miniature static scenes of everyday life, historical figures, events, people, and landscapes. Creating miniature dioramas means building a whole new world and letting the viewers become part of another epoch. At least that’s what Canadian-Trinidadian artist Curtis “Talwst” Santiago has to say about his captivating series of miniature historic dioramas inside of vintage ring boxes.


“In this work I wanted to play the role of court jester, like Banksy or Maurizio Cattelan, in a surrealist comedy piece poking fun at Dutch landscapes.” Author: Talwst.

The Toronto-based artist indeed created a whole new world by turning the tiny interior of these vintage ring boxes into detailed scenes from different historical periods.

#4 – “This is a piece about climate change. It’s entitled Summer in the Winter.” Author: Talwst.

#5 “This is the first ring box I made: a Venus-type scene of my girlfriend at the time emerging from the waters.”


Nubian Origin Story. According to Artist, 2014. Author: Talwst.

The work’s small-scale allows me the opportunity for a very particular kind of meditation,” he says. “The overarching theme is related to time and space; to my sense of the vastness and the fragility of the world which I inhabit; and my fleeting memories of this world.”


After Tom After Kim After Acid. Author: Talwst.

His works of art are often inspired by present-day people and events, but many of the unique, detailed stories he creates draw inspiration from historical events and pop culture. As reported by  The Guardian, he says that he likes capturing memories and fleeting moments. “They feel all the more moving because of their fugitive nature,” Talwst says.


He is a frequent visitor to various antique markets, where he hunts for vintage ring boxes. He also buys them on eBay and on several occasions some of his fans have surprised him by sending him the much-needed ring boxes.

Talwst’s dioramas are just one of the many possible variations on this centuries-old art form that has continued developing through to the 21st century. Talwst’s spectacularly detailed scenes offer a glimpse into our everyday lives, our controversial past, and uncertain future.

What is most important, these intricate pieces of art might serve as an inspiration for many others to experiment with miniature dioramas.





#13 Started From The Bottom Now We Here pt1 looks at the evolution of the human race and how far we’ve come from cave sketching.

#14 The details of Déjeuner sur I

“This is an ode to Édouard Manet, one of my favorite painters. It’s a take on his 1864 painting La Muerte del Torero.” Author: Talwst.

To see more of his awesome ring boxes, check out his official websiteFacebookInstagram, or Twitter account.


#16 Nubian Woman Attacked By Tiger