It is clear that the works of Joseph Plaskett soar beyond description of national treasure to the realm of international artist extraordinaire. In New Westminster his career and contribution to the visual arts and heritage preservation are seen as the prized jewel in the crown of the Royal City. Plaskett was born in New Westminster in 1918 and raised in Sapperton. Son of the Rector of St. Mary`s Anglican Church, Plaskett began sketching and painting the heritage, architecture and landscape of the once first capital on the Fraser River in his childhood. The heritage of his hometown, especially its magnificent homes gardens remained close to Plaskett`s heart. Plaskett studied at the University of British Columbia where he graduated with Class History Honours and then went on to teach for a brief time. His formal training in the visual arts began when he studied at night at the Vancouver School of Art under the supervision of Ustinoff, Amess, Shadbolt and Binning.
In 1946, Plaskett was awarded the Inaugural Emily Carr Scholarship. At the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco he studied avant garde and non objective tendencies under Park, Spohn and Still. In New York with Hans Hoffman, Plaskett studied modernism and how to see nature and space before objects.
In 1947 Plaskett was appointed Principal of the Winnipeg School of Art. He remained there for two years, then resigned and went to Paris to learn from life and its history. In Europe, he expanded upon the theory and technique he had acquired in the classrooms of the North American Arts Schools. It was in this period that Plaskett changed styles from abstract to the figurative, and it is in this style that Plaskett`s works have come into their own and his career as an artist has been internationally acclaimed. Plaskett often wintered in a 15th century gothic home in Paris and summers in a country home in England and would often return to the Royal City as often as possible.