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An Uneasy Sleep
old-fashioned bed, patchwork quilt, quilt sectrions, wood, cast-iron bed frame, photographs, aerial landscape, maps, landscape, the universe, safety and comfort, bed, cover, covering, past generations, injustice, values, equity, fairness, knowledge of the past, truth, stars, embrace, reveal, conceal, ego, intellect, isolation, inner self, youth, values, interpretations, point of view, technological advancements,

In this work, Doris Wall Larson presents the image of a very basic old-fashioned bed. It is covered with a brightly coloured patchwork  quiltAnything that is quilted; esp., a quilted bed cover, or a skirt worn by women; any cover or garment made by putting wool, cotton, etc., between two cloths and stitching them together; also, any outer bed cover. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  like her mother would have made. As the viewers approach the work, they see that the quilt sections are small pieces of wood and that each can be turned over to the other side. As the pieces are gradually flipped over another image is revealed. This other image appears to be an aerial landscape with two figures wrapped in an embrace. We can see references to maps, landscape, the universe, satellites and stars. The two lovers are caught in space and nature and bared for all to see and the safety and comfort of the bed and the patchwork cover are gone;  Larson is revealing another view of the world and questioning the values of the past generations, and may be hoping to expose the injustice of what has been created and achieved in this country at the expense of others. She is looking to understand her place in this world and face the knowledge of the past rather than hide from it.

start quoteBut there were other really important things that happened to me because I was intimate with emptiness...end quote -- Doris Larson

This life-size  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (  is unlike many other works of art exhibited in art galleries because it is meant to be touched. Larson encourages her audience to spend time and connect with her art work. While over time this could have a detrimental effect on the finishes and appearance of the work, due to the oils released or transferred with the human touch, the interaction between the viewer and the art work is an integral component of this work.

additional resources Description of an Uneasy Sleep
Duration: 3:12 min
Size: 14724kb
Landscape of her Youth
Duration: 1:38 min
Size: 7749kb
Learn to see the Beauty in Your Life
Duration: 1:30 min
Size: 6641kb
The Origins of an Uneasy Sleep
Duration: 2:14 min
Size: 10387kb
What is Successful Art
Duration: 1:46 min
Size: 8101kb
Things to Think About
  • Doris Wall Larson spent six months making this work. The MacKenzie Art Gallery bought the work in 1992 for $6,000.00 and Wall Larson was pleased to have her work included in their collection. If she worked eight hours a day, five days a week, what would be her hourly wage? Deduct about half of that money to cover the costs of running a studio and paying for supplies. Is this a lucrative business? Why would someone want to be an artist?
  • What do you think Wall Larson is communicating in this artwork about technology and societal change? What is your relationship to technology in this world?  How would you convey that relationship in a work of art?
  • Larson quotes Joan Didion and wishes she had written Didion’s statement, “I write entirely to find out what I am thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” What other methods can you use to get in touch with yourself and who you are?
  • Why do you think Wall Larson titled this work An Uneasy Sleep?  Can you think of other secrets, like adoption or illness, that are concealed and gradually revealed at a later date?
Online Activity
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Click on each panel, one at a time, to reveal the other side of Doris Larson's bed.


Studio Activity
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What is important to you?

Many artists view their creative process as a way of appreciating their world and understanding their own experiences.  Joan Didion states, “I write entirely to find out what I am thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

Create an art work to discover something important about yourself through your art-making process.

  • For example, think of an important question to begin an ‘inquiry’ into your own thoughts about your life.
  • You might ask, for example, “What things are most important to me about my relationship with my best friend, family, or romantic partner?"
  • Or you might ask, “How do I feel about technology or the future of this planet?”
  • Then, explore visual images that come to mind as you formulate your ideas and reflect on that important question.


Doris Wall Larson carved each ‘quilt’ section in An Uneasy Sleep out of wood.  Each piece is beautifully crafted.

  • Practice carving using soft materials like Styrofoam, soap, bass wood or clay.


Make a self-portrait by filling in a  gridA framework or pattern of criss-crossed or parallel lines. A lattice. When criss-crossed, lines are conventionally horizontal and vertical; and when lines are diagonal, they are usually at right angles to each other. Typically graph paper is a grid of lines. Things which are often gridded: tiles, tessellations, wire screens, chess boards, maps, graphs, charts, calendars, and modern street plans. (  with a variety of straight lines and colours.

Write a story

  • Write a story about something, which on the surface, appears to be very ordinary and unimportant, but has a secret hidden beneath.
  • Illustrate your story.


Design a game

Design a game like Wheel of Fortune where a mystery word or phrase is chosen with concealed letters. The key idea of the game is to somehow discover what the word or phrase is.


  • When all the parts are gathered and sewn together, donate the work to a worthy organization.

Author unknown.  ‘Doris Wall Larson.’  Saskatchewan Portraits.  Saskatchewan Arts Board, undated.  Retrieved from the Internet on March 27, 2009 from:

Richmond, Cindy.  Doris Wall Larson: home truths.  Exhibition catalogue.  Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1991.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning