Sebastian Thomas: A New Face In Hell

Sebastian Thomas: A New Face in Hell 

Hawthornvale Space
29 June – 30 September 2023
Daily 7am – 7pm, viewable from the street

Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop is delighted to present a newly commissioned installation for our Hawthornvale Space  as part of the Edinburgh Arts Festival Partner’s Programme this summer. A New Face in Hell by Sebastian Thomas has been developed and produced over a series of residencies at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. The Hawthornvale Space Programme is an ongoing series of public art commissions that aims to give the public an unexpected and thought provoking encounter with contemporary art. It connects the work of the artists we support with our local community and passersby. Housed in our on street gallery space the commission is viewable daily from the street, projecting the work of the commissioned artist into the public realm to engage a broad audience, many of whom might not regularly visit art galleries.

 Working with readily available industrial materials Thomas has created a structure within the gallery space to play host to a new body of sculptural works, many of which have been produced at the workshop. The installation draws inspiration from the mythological fable of the Golem, a being constructed of inanimate material that often ends up becoming uncontrollable.

Creating a golem was a way in which medieval Jewish mystics could become closer to God. The ancestor of the word meant “shapeless mass” or “raw” material, connoting the unfinished human being before God’s eyes. It’s also understood to mean “dumb” or “helpless”, a metaphor for a mindless entity that serves man. In many stories though, the creature runs amok and becomes hostile to its creator, serving as a cautionary tale against the hubris of man. A large structural framework fills the entirety of the gallery upon which are mounted a layer ceramic grids, poured foam panels and CNC’d shapes to create a dense landscape of material. Punctuating this surface are a host of cast metal body and face amalgamations, floating in and out of the framework, disrupting its’ membrane. Through this build up and transformation of materials Thomas’ work attempts to set the stage for a retelling where reality and narrative merge, a breeding ground for semi-fictional objects, places and protagonists. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication with a commissioned text from artist and writer Aaron Head.


Sebastian Thomas (b.1986 Reading, UK) Thomas’ practice is interested in the lack of fixity of objects and the transformative potential inherent in materials. He accumulates and recycles found elements (both industrial and natural), paying attention to the detritus and waste of human activity. These discarded objects have been dislodged from their original meanings and purposes, allowing for new interpretations. This re-contextualisation takes place through a variety of transformative processes including casting, assemblage, metal/woodworking and ceramics. In 2021 Thomas was the recipient of a Develop Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England. He traveled to Scotland and spent an extensive period learning in depth knowledge around metal casting, ceramics and metal working at both the Edinburgh and Scottish Sculpture Workshops. Following this he built his own furnace and set up a small foundry near Reading which he currently uses to facilitate collaborative casting projects with other artists. He graduated with an MA from Camberwell College of Art in 2017. 

 Recent exhibition highlights include A Tally of Distempered Parts, ASC Gallery, London, UK, 2023; Golem, Lot Projects, London, UK, 2022; The Necker, APT Gallery, London, UK, 2021; The Weather Garden, The Towner, Eastbourne, UK, 2019; Wild Service, Kingsgate Project Space, London, UK, 2019 and Troglodyte Antiphon, Intercession Gallery, Northampton, UK, 2019. 

You can find out more about his work here and here. 

Aaron Head is an artist and writer based in Milton Keynes. In 2019 he graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University, having previously completed a BA in Fine Art from Oxford Brookes in 2006. He has been exhibiting works across the UK since 2007, including at institutions like New Art Gallery Walsall and Milton Keynes Gallery, and most recently completed a residency at 33OC in Toffia, Italy. Some Ideas is a new piece of fiction that responds to the work and ideas of Sebastian Thomas.

Image credit: The death of the giant, Sebastian Thomas, 2022, Courtesy the artist Image credit Angus Mill