‘My diagnosis at 27 changed my life dramatically. I connect all these things back to what I bundle up as “below-par”. I’d do weights and not bulk up. I couldn’t run as fast as other people. Knowing you are somehow physically different to others, made me feel really inferior and insecure.

‘I looked for various ways socially to compensate for that. It led me toward a lot of really negative lifestyle choices as far as being reckless. Getting diagnosed was a huge relief – it turned all that around.

‘I have a degenerative neuro-muscular condition called Inclusion Body Myositis which means my muscle cells don’t regenerate. Effectively I’ve got a slow, degenerative, muscle-wasting disease. It started off in my legs and it progressed to my arms. It’s slowly going through every set of muscles throughout my body.

‘I’ve had to face so many physical and emotional challenges. It’s made me a lot tougher and a lot stronger as a person. It’s made me a much nicer person than I used to be in my 20s. I’m nowhere near as selfish; I have a different perspective on life. I know what’s important and what’s not. I think I do. It just put me on a different path.

‘Before I was diagnosed, I was working in hospitality. I’ve always done really physical kind of work but I really physically started to struggle with all of that. Then I decided that I wanted to study and did an Advanced Diploma of Fine Art at TAFE followed by a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of NSW.

‘I was fortunate enough at the start of 2016 to be awarded a grant through Accessible Arts which is designed to support me as an emerging artist in a sustainable arts practice. It’s helped me buy art supplies and an electric easel. It’s helped me build a website and employ a videographer to do a short 3.5 minute documentary about me and my practice. It all culminates in a solo exhibition where I produce 20 paintings. It’s designed to sell some work and generate some income so that I can then be funded to have a sustainable art practice for another year and have another show.’

‘I grew up in a creative home & started painting young. Both my parents were artists. Dad’s a sculptor. My mum did study art but went on to study architecture.

‘My mum’s graphic drawing probably influenced my early work more than my current work. I’ve always been quite obsessed with architecture and buildings. My dad’s taught me things over the years – techniques and ideas. He’s good to talk to about art as he’s got a pretty good understanding. I’ve learnt art history and some of that kind of stuff from him as well – just in all the natural ways your parents influence you.

‘I started out writing much more traditional graffiti so I was working with letter structures and formations. It was quite sharp, aggressive, very technical. About 4-5 years ago, the graffiti thing started to get a little bit old for me & I found the structure of traditional graffiti quite restrictive. I was studying art at the time & was doing oil paintings so it was like marrying my oil paintings with my graffiti work. I lost the letter structure completely & started to experiment with figure work & landscape works. It took a few years to get direction but it’s definitely evolved a lot.’

How do you work the concepts on your walls around the Inner West?

‘Sometimes I have ideas in the back of my mind but need to find the right wall. Mostly however, I like to react to space. If I have a wall lined up, I’ll take photographs of it. I’ll play around with different compositions. Everything is very much designed to fit in that space. Sometimes the trees surrounding the walls can influence the way you lay out your composition – the street, the sky, the buildings behind it. Everything can play a part. I think that’s pretty important when you’re a street artist. You’ve got to react to your environment.

‘I’ve got a lot of walls in the Inner West lined up – it’s just finding time to actually paint them and getting funding as well. Hopefully this year I’ll paint about 10 new murals in the Inner West. I’m going to be working overseas quite a lot as well. Just when I’m home I’ll do what I can. I’m going to be back in Europe & America – and in New Zealand as well which is exciting.’

What’s been the best part of working overseas for you personally?

‘Probably just the people I’ve met over the last couple of years. I’ve met really good, interesting people. For me, that’s probably my favourite thing about travelling and working. It’s been so nice to be able to go somewhere and leave your mark a little bit as well. It’s good to be immersed with local artists & local people. Sometimes you’re up a lift & out of the way but sometimes people chat, watch & take photographs. It’s kind of cool being able to produce work & interact with the community at the same time. You get a direct response & a direct feel. It’s nice to know you’re appreciated sometimes as well even if you are just a visual polluter in many ways!’

View more of Fintan Magee’s work at http://www.fintanmagee.com or @fintan_magee.

‘I last saw my brother at Manchester airport 20 years ago when I was 7 years old. He was leaving for Australia. I clearly remember giving him a hug and saying goodbye and that we’d see each other again.

‘We communicated by hand written letters over the years. All his letters were always so loving and positive. Whenever he used to phone at Xmas and would say goodbye to me, he could barely talk he was so upset. I really remember not understanding why he was so sad. I think it became easier over the years not to make that call and just to cut himself off a bit.

‘He didn’t phone at Xmas in 2003 and we got a bit worried. He’d been travelling around Australia and promised he’d be better at keeping in touch. He was always at this one address at Stanmore so we always knew we could get hold of him there.

‘Shortly after that, I got the last letter I’ve ever had from him. It was really sweet. He said never to worry about him and he’s very happy. I carried on writing after that but we didn’t hear anything for a while.

‘In 2009, I got every single letter I sent him to Stanmore sent back to me unopened, altogether in a big package.

‘I came out last year for 2 months to look for him. I’ve contacted the Salvation Army, Missing Persons Register, Red Cross. I went to the electoral roll and visited every Martin Roberts in Sydney. I wrote to every single Martin Roberts across Australia. I’ve checked the death register. Nothing. Immigration says he hasn’t moved on so I know he’s here.

‘I’ve given up my life, my job, my partner, everything to come out here again to look for him. Police have confirmed there is a Martin David Roberts with his date of birth listed to an address in Newtown. That’s the best news ever because it means he’s still alive because there is a part of you that starts thinking something awful happened to him.

‘He was seen 4 months ago at Newtown station and around 9 months ago at Town Hall station and apparently he’s a bit of a regular in pokie rooms around Newtown.

‘I don’t want to judge him for anything he’s been through. I don’t need a justification or a reason. None of us do. I just want to tell him that I love him and that he’s loved and missed.’

PLEASE SHARE TO HELP FIND MARTIN. IF YOU KNOW OF HIS WHEREABOUTS, PLEASE CONTACT NEWTOWN POLICE OR HIS SISTER VIA http://www.facebook.com/helpfindmartin