How Time is More than Money: The Mural as a Labour of Love


  • Struan Kennedy Northumbria University



This article proposes that of all the different ways that social connections are formed the most important factor is time. Given how central it is to the development of relationships, the article argues that projects aiming to improve community relations should extend their duration rather than truncate it for the sake of cost-efficiency or quick and apparent success. The project of specific focus is the making of community murals which is laden with potential but only when it is conceived in the entirety of the process rather than simply as an end product. This potential is based on the idea that more time, if used carefully and critically, can play a greater role in fostering positive relations in contexts where civic engagement is strained. Several case studies will be referenced from the United States of America and Northern Ireland, two societies that share both a tradition of mural making and social division, in terms of race relations and ethnonational/religious sectarianism respectively. Practical insights from these cases substantiate the central argument that the mural process affords moments for valuable cross-community contact, critical discussion, and meaningful reflection. When this approach is adopted, time can be best served in repairing social connections, creating new bonds and even mitigating further tension.