Times Colonist

Vic­to­ria’s liv­ing statue stood per­fectly still — and moved us with joy

- CINDY E. HAR­NETT Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad · Edmonton · Calgary · Paris · Geneva · Switzerland · Alps · Charlie Chaplin · Victoria City · Village des Valeurs · Dave Harris · William Clark

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.

 ?? NIC HUME, TIMES COLONIST ?? Clark M. Clark, known as Plaster­man: a light, even in dark times.
NIC HUME, TIMES COLONIST Clark M. Clark, known as Plaster­man: a light, even in dark times.
 ?? DE­BRA BRASH, TIMES COLONIST ?? Clark M. Clark, as the Plaster­man, catches the eye of peo­ple strolling the In­ner Har­bour in Septem­ber 2009.
DE­BRA BRASH, TIMES COLONIST Clark M. Clark, as the Plaster­man, catches the eye of peo­ple strolling the In­ner Har­bour in Septem­ber 2009.

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