Victoria’s living statue stood perfectly still — and moved us with joy
Plasterman, the busker who played a white statue and became a fixture on Victoria’s Inner Harbour for more than two decades, moved people — without moving.
On Aug. 6, Clark M. Clark, known as Plasterman, died of a massive heart attack at home in Victoria. He was unaware he had severe coronary disease. He was 57.
Daniel Roden Clark, 22, said the essence of his father was being kind, loving and full of joy. “He was uncompromising in his optimism. Even in dark times there was always a light at the end of the tunnel in his view.”
Christopher Loran, who does radio promotions for the Q and The Zone, said just days earlier Clark had brought him a film script he wrote, an improv piece about relationships, and asked Loran if he would work on it with him.
“He was a great ambassador for Victoria,” said Loran.
“No one who has walked through Inner Harbour in the last 20 years has not seen Plasterman and noticed him. He brought smiles to people’s faces and he’s going to be missed.”
Scott McLean Clark was born in Edmonton on April 7, 1963; he legally changed his name to Clark Clark, the way it was once misprinted on a playbill. “Everyone called him Clark except for me and our dad; it was just too weird,” said brother Allan Clark.
Clark grew up in Calgary. He studied theatre and education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and worked various jobs after university.
He spent several years living in Paris and Geneva. He taught yoga, skiied in the Swiss Alps and the Canadian Rockies, and was a strong swimmer.
He married, separated in 2002, divorced in 2006, and had one son.
“As a father he was supportive and intensely proud of my every endeavor,” said Roden Clark. “My parents divorced when I was very young but he made sure that what time I had with him as a child was full of love, laughs and lessons. “
Father and son remained close into adulthood and Clark was able to pass on “the deeper and more meaningful lessons he had learned throughout his life.”
In Victoria, he worked for 15 years as a daycare educator. He was also a children’s entertainer.
In a Times Colonist profile by Jim and Nic Hume, Clark explained his work with children: “They loved stories, and I loved telling them. And I found they really loved stories when I put a bit of acting in — and I loved the telling and the acting.”
Chivonne Graff met Clark in a workshop on “circle time” for early educators. Clark came with a suitcase filled with props.
“I was inspired to put aside my self-consciousness and tap into my playful, child-like side when engaging with children in groups at circle time,” said Graff. “He was one of two outstanding male educators that I have known in 25 years in the field. He had a special presence in this community.”
Throughout the years, Clark acted in local stage and film productions and was an improv coach. He was infected with the acting bug in Grade 6, after playing the lead in a school play.
At age 36, the fan of Charlie Chaplin embarked on becoming an independent entertainer by creating his first living statues with his best-known act evolving into Plasterman.
Clark started out as “that statue guy” wearing white clothes from Value Village, make-up, a white sheet covering a milkcrate to stand on, and a sign reading “Totally Plastered in Victoria.”
That evolved into a character bathed head to toe in thick white fabric paint, resembling plaster, standing motionless on a wooden block. His bald head and shaved eyebrows (which he did for the busking season) added to his stark image.
Standing out in the summer sun all day seemed an odd choice for a man allergic to the sun.
Nevertheless, since 2000, each May to mid-October, he practised his art.
“He loved his work as a human statue,” said Roden Clark. “The happiness and entertainment it brought people meant the world to him.”
Musician Dave Harris, who has busked on the streets of Victoria for 44 years and now plays on Government Street, met Clark about 20 years ago and described him as “very easy to deal with, friendly, warm and kind.”
“He became one of the most loved and busiest buskers; he worked very hard, often six to eight hours a day in the hot sun,” said Harris.
Some would nearly pass Plasterman only to get a scare upon realizing he was human. He might make a sudden move to silence the cheeky youth, maybe a wink or a grin to the curious.
If tourists wanted a photo he would come to life, for a moment, with a smile or a handshake or a hug for a child. He posed with hundreds of people each day. He graciously acknowledged tips. He said in an interview he made enough money to meet his needs.
“Fun story about Plasterman,” said Harris. “I’m playing in one spot, he’s down the way. A woman with her young son come by. She says: ‘Put the coin in the case. He says: ‘I want to give it to Plasterman.’ I laughed so hard.”
Olympic marathoner and coach Bruce Deacon first met Clark in the non-denominational New Life Community Fellowship church with his then young family. Over the years the two kept in touch.
Plasterman was a constant figure in Victoria and that’s why it’s so hard to imagine him gone, said Deacon.
When the City of Victoria began having buskers audition for a prime rotation of spots, Clark and other veterans were grandfathered in.
“He had a way of touching people’s hearts,” said Deacon, noting his comedic timing and his ability to read people were key.
“He knew when he should break from his Plasterman pose to give someone a hug or when to show compassion or when to do something funny or silly with someone,” said Deacon. “He was just brilliant that way.”
Clark said he easily adapted to the stillness — he once timed himself at 45 minutes without moving with the exception of a blink — but it took him years to master how to read and respond, or not, to the audience.
Clark, born to Velma (nee Young) and William Clark, leaves behind his son Daniel, mother Velma, sister Brenda, and brothers Allan and Roger. His father died in 2016 at age 92, in Victoria.