When Hilary, Adam (6months old) and I arrived in Canberra in January 1957 we were housed in an ANU house in Hacking Crescent, Narrabundah and Fred Ward and Puss carefully shoehorned us into ACT society.
The first group we joined was the Canberra Art Club, as Puss and Fred were members.
It was housed in one of the old Workmen’s huts in Riverside (Barton) which also housed the Repertory Theatre, the Artists Society and one or two others. We held quite a few exhibitions of member’s work in that uninsulated, draughty hut but it was a centre for activities such as talks and social events etc. as there was little else available in a town that only had a population of around 20,000 (now closer to 350,000 in 2016.
The time came however for the huts to be removed for re-development as Canberra was beginning to expand from its 20,000 population, so I suggested that we form a Steering Committee for the formation of a Cultural Centre which we could all share with perhaps a joint secretarial position.
We formed a committee and I was elected Chair. Margaret Frankel was Secretary and we set about listing the spatial needs and usage times of all the various clubs and submitted a proposal to Grenfell Ruddock, then Assistant Commissioner in the National Capital Development Commission.
Our report was looked on favourably and we were all allocated space on the top floor of the old Surveyors Building in Bunda Street, Civic (now demolished).
At that time I was becoming very busy with ANU development and in my spare time with the growth of the Industrial Design Council of Australia which Fred and I had started from our Design Unit office in ANU, so I dropped out of the organisation of the Griffin Centre – I had got it going. It has been recognised as the first cultural centre in Australia to be organised by amateur societies.
The origins and growth of the Griffin Centre are well documented in the book written by Lizz Murphy and Sarah St Vincent Welch called The Pearly Griffin. My role as an initiator of action is documented on pages 17-18.