Artist Name(s) Fergus Martin
Artwork title Steel
Context/Background Steel was erected in October 2008 on the Irish Museum of Modern Art's (IMMA) East Gate as part of a major upgrading of the gateway by the Office of Public Works. Steel takes the form of three stainless steel barrel-like structures, which are installed on the pillars of the double gateway.

Steel, a permanent sculpture by leading Irish artist Fergus Martin, was commissioned under the Government’s Per Cent for Art Scheme by the Office of Public Works. The sculpture is erected on IMMA’s East Gate which serves as the main entrance for visitors to the Museum. 

The sculpture takes the form of three stainless steel barrel-like structures which are installed on the pillars of the double gateway. The work has a timeless quality, uniting IMMA’s historic setting with its present-day function as the country’s leading centre for modern and contemporary art. Commenting on his approach to the commission, Artist Fergus Martin said:

 “One of the first thoughts I had was wanting the sculpture to give people a feeling of surprise and happiness every time they saw it. When I went to look at the gates, and looked up the avenue, I couldn't see where the building ended because the trees blocked the view of the sides to the left and right. It gave me the idea of a form that didn't appear to end. So these barrels are like cut chunks of a horizontal structure which could go on and on – like an underground river which surfaces here and there. If you think of them as surfacing on top of the pillars – ! – they’re like startled – startling – visitors.”

In 2011, the sculpture was destroyed by trucks which were unable to pass through the gates. The sculpture has not been remade or restored to its original position.




There was much publicity around the unveiling of Steel and a solo exhibition of Martin’s work at The Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. This included interviews with the artist in IMAGE magazine, October 2008, and the Sunday Times Culture magazine, 26 October 2008. 


Born in Cork in 1955, Fergus Martin studied art at Dun Laoghaire School of Art from 1972 to 1976.  From 1979 to 1988 he lived and worked in Italy, where he lectured in the English language at the University of Milan. In 1988, he returned to full-time painting and has been living and working in Dublin since. In 1991 he attended the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.

Martin has exhibited in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and America. His work is included in public collections in Ireland, including those of the Irish Museum Modern Art and Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, as well as many Irish and international private collections. He received awards from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York in 1999 and 2006, and was awarded The Marten Toonder Award by The Arts Council in 1999. In 2001 he was elected a member of Aosdána.

Commission Type OPW
Commissioner Name The Office of Public Works
Commissioning process Open Tender
Public Presentation dates October 8, 2008 - October 8, 2008
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Other
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 70000 - 150000 euro
Location East Gate, main entrance to the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
County Dublin
Google Map Insert View this projects location
Content contributor(s) Monica Cullinane
Relationship to project Public Affairs Executive at IMMA
Public engagement

The work is seen by all visitors to IMMA, which include a wide range of publics including domestic and international tourists, school and third level groups, and local communities.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

OPW Art Management Services
OPW Architectural Services
Roughan & O'Donovan, Consulting Engineers



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