Don's Diary

September 15, 2000


One week to go before Soundings, our art/science exhibition about the ear, opens at the Royal College of Art. After months of collaboration with my sister Henrietta and with two hospital venues under our belt, we will now be part of the "Creating Sparks" festival. Generously allow Hen a couple of hours to unpack from her holiday before calling to discuss all the messages I had left. The urgently required blank sticky labels are in the post.


So much for guaranteed delivery. We have 3,000 Soundings leaflets, none with a label to say where the exhibition and live event can be found. After an hour on the phone, I find out they have been mis-sorted. Private view invitations also missing thanks to a postal dispute in Oxfordshire.

Do some data analysis, but remember I need to inform the festival PR company of a great piece of timing. At the heart of Soundings is research into the fact that our ears produce their own sounds. These tell us about the workings of the ear and form the basis of a new universal screening programme for detecting deafness in babies. The government's pilot scheme begins this month.


Still no sign of labels, so play with new puppy - a black labrador called Onyx. Private view invitations arrive by courier. Spend another hour tracking down labels and end up collecting them from depot. Print all 2,400 of them from a colleague's machine after mine crashes. Post invitations. Feed cauldrons of pre-race pasta to husband Marius - aka the Triathlon Don.


Lots more frolicking with puppy. Long chat with Hen about tomorrow's arrangements for setting up. Marius finishes 6th in New Forest triathlon series. Friends visit the puppy and stay for supper.


Arrive at RCA with labels to find exhibition space coated with a thick layer of dust from building works upstairs.

Men arrive to remove packing crates, but these are still unopened - apologise and postpone. Space is sparkling by lunchtime, so we nervously erect the four glass boxes with glass artist Jane McDonald. These are engraved with Simon Armitage's poem, "Hearing You Out", an exploration of the senses. Inside we suspend Hen's sculptures of forms found within the ear.

Meanwhile, families rally round as my brother and Jane's daughter affix all the labels to the leaflets. Hope our website by Colin Ruffell pulls the visitors.

Delighted with the look of it, all next to the SciArt cafe-bar. Leave late, tired but happy, to get the train home - red wine makes it go faster.


Tried to be a scientist today rather than an exhibition organiser.


More research before arriving at RCA to check lighting and distribute leaflets. Relax in Hyde Park before private view. But Hen rushes up to say we must dress now because Newsnight is coming. Change in the middle of park, much to the amusement of tourists and a passing toddler. Great private view, especially pleased to see those I invited made the effort.

Jemma Hine is a clinical scientist at the MRC Institute of Hearing Research, Southampton. Soundings live event is on September 17 at the Royal College of Art. Details:

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