Book Review: A Plan Larger than I Could Draw

A Plan Larger Than I Could Draw by Neville Clouten.

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They say that you can’t tell a book by its cover. That’s not true with Neville Clouten’s A Plan Larger Than I Could Draw. In this, an autobiographical work with several photos, you’ll often find occasions when you sense God drawing the plan for him.

In the early 60s he was a student of architecture at Sydney University, which meant field trips to the Sydney Opera House as it was being built. After his final exam, he applied to be the “Researcher and Official Guide” at the Opera House and was the first to hold that position. He often talked to Jorn Utzon, the architect, so he could defend the Opera House.

In 1963, he and wife, Norene, headed to Europe where he hoped to gain more architectural experience. A “chance” meeting with Adventist conductor Herbert Blomstedt at the Stockholm Adventist Church one Sabbath led to an introduction and work with Gosta Aberg who had won the contest to build a Concert Hall in Oslo.

Journey begun, Clouten is now a retired award-winning academic (with a PhD from Edinburgh University), an administrator and an accomplished artist. He was the first Professor of Architecture at the church’s Andrews University (USA). His ground-breaking work recording Aboriginal art in Australia is significant (he began the task with borrowed police cameras). A random email from a Kenyan girl led to a school for orphans. 

As you would expect, he’s interested in church architecture. He was disappointed to spend a day travelling (in the US) to visit a church mentioned in a journal where a congregation and an architect designed their church together and created a model of it. He was disappointed to find the model still in the architect’s office and that the congregation accepted an offer from a builder to build something more cheaply. 

He praises our award-winning Canberra National Church—and gives suggestions of how to get best results for our “sacred spaces.”

There’s so much more to his life, but there’s a real sense of a plan larger than he could imagine—or, as Clouten the artist would prefer, larger than he could “draw.”

A worthwhile read.

A Plan Larger Than I Could Draw is available now from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.

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