I love any event where my children can get properly involved and even better when that event is free – so we were keen to head along to Home Sweet Home at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay this half term.
This mini-city has overtaken the foyer of Wales Millennium Centre, with streets mapped out on a huge canvas, and residents decorating their houses and moving in all week.
We visited yesterday (Monday), on the first day of the Home Sweet Home Cardiff project and loved it. It had been open for a couple of hours by the time we arrived and there was a fantastic buzz in the Centre as children and their parents/grandparents chose their houses, shops or even house boats, picked up their flat-pack buildings, decorated them, and pitched them on their allocated plot.
A local postman was busy delivering mail to new residents, while the city’s own radio station interviewed residents and broadcast news in between songs.
We had to queue for about 10 minutes to choose our house from the estate agent’s kiosk – we were lucky we got there when we did though, because 45 minutes later the housing stock allocated for that day had sold out.
A basic terraced house is free but we opted to pay 50p for a detached one (if only they were that cheap in real life!), were handed our key and picked up our flat-pack from the cardboard community. My two eldest children – five year old Little Miss E and three-and-a-half-year-old Little Man O – raided the supplies store for all manner of fabric, paints and shiny embellishments and set to work, while I tried to restrain Baby Boy I, now 11 months, from crawling off and demolishing the city, like some kind of baby equivalent of Godzilla, looking huge compared to the miniature buildings.
I was slightly worried as to how my big two would get on decorating one house between them, but they worked really well as a team, dividing up the walls without me intervening and helping each other stick, glue and cut.
Some of the older children taking part created very realistic houses, with red tiles on the roof and bricks carefully drawn onto the walls. Other kids were pushed to the side-lines while parents and grandparents took charge. Our new home is more of a flamboyant affair, definitely the creation of my children rather than me, with a blue and black polka dot roof and bright patchwork-esque walls. They even managed to create a chimney from a bottle cork – although it was touch and go as to whether it would stay in tact, as Baby Boy I kept trying to eat it.
We’re all moved in and settled on to our new street and the key we’ve been allocated means we can come and go whenever we like during the week (if we’re lucky, there might even be some post for us!) and even attend street naming ceremonies, and a residents’ street party on the final day of the installation.
The city looked great when we left it, with the brightly coloured buildings contrasting with the white map below. I can imagine it will only look more impressive as the week goes on and more houses are built and decorated.
Home Sweet Home is a fun and imaginative experience that allows children and adults to become part of an ambitious art installation project, realising that while our own contribution may be small, working together as a community can create something rather amazing indeed. A highly recommended fun, family experience.
There’s more information on Home Sweet Home at Wales Millennium Centre here. It runs until Saturday, with the estate agent open from 11am-12pm and 1.30pm-3pm. A limited number of houses are available each day.
Check out the Cardiff Mummy Says guide to February 2015 half term events in Cardiff – more than 35 things to do in and around Cardiff.
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