The formation of the Richard (Dick) and Joan Crebbin art collection began after Dick’s return from active service as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAAF during the Second World War, before he and Joan married in 1954. They lived at Castlecrag, a residential estate designed by Walter Burley Griffin and their home was furnished by Marion Hall Best between 1960 and 1975.

Dick Crebbin’s lifetime devotion to art began as a student at Sydney Boys High School with regular visits to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, often skipping school swimming lessons at the Domain.

His early business career began as an accounting clerk with Marrickville Margarine before joining the senior executive and becoming a foundation director of the new publicly listed company in 1951. Marrickville Holdings’ brands included Miracle Margarine, Mother’s Choice Flour and ETA Peanut Butter.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Dick and Joan Crebbin developed close relationships with many artists including William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, James Gleeson and Robert Klippel. They had close associations with dealers such as Rudy Komon, Kim Bonython and Frank Watters. Dick Crebbin’s friendship with Robert Klippel led to a long period of patronage with the acquisition of the largest private collection of the sculptor’s work spanning four decades from the mid-1940s.

Frank Watter’s recalled ...’When Robert Klippel returned to Australia in 1967 his reputation was formidable and the small local ‘art world’ accorded him almost legendary status. But Klippel felt unhappy with the commercial gallery scene and in the early 1970s he withdrew from it almost completely, surviving through the patronage of the businessman Richard Crebbin. It was Richard Crebbin who felt that Klippel’s reputation was suffering because his work was not being exhibited and so he approached us.’1 Taking Crebbin’s recommendation seriously, finally in 1979 Klippel agreed to show at Watters Gallery, the first exhibition being a sell-out.

Dick Crebbin’s involvement in the art world extended to government arts administration. The Whitlam government appointed him chairman of the interim council of the Australian National Gallery in 1974, becoming first Chairman of the permanent council under the Fraser government (1976 – 82). Continuing his support for contemporary art he was the founding Chairman of Artbank in 1980.

1. ’Perspective’, ABC Radio interview with Frank Watters, 28 August 2002