Inside The Red Mansion: Füsun Onur’s world of objects, care relations, and art

Hitting home: representations of the domestic milieu in feminist art

  • Nergis Abıyeva Ph.D. Candidate in Art History, Istanbul Technical University, Istandbul.
  • Ceren Özpınar School of Humanities, University of Brighton, Brighton.
Keywords: Füsun Onur, objects, home, sisterhood, care


The Red Mansion, or Hayri Onur Yalısı, acquired by the artist’s family in the 1930s, has been home to the Turkish sculptor and installation artist Füsun Onur and her sister İlhan for almost her entire life. It has a significant place in the artist’s career as it houses not only her life, studio, and archive, but also the affectionately preserved mementoes of her mother. In this article, we explore the role of the Red Mansion and its concentrated materiality in Füsun’s art and her relations with objects, her family, and her sister İlhan. We examine four of her artworks, which we argue are based on collaborative creativity and mutual care: Dollhouse (1970s), Counterpoint with Flowers (1982), The Dream of Abandoned Furniture (1985), and Once Upon a Time (2022). The interdisciplinary theoretical framework of our analysis draws upon care studies, family sociology, object-oriented ontology, and psychoanalysis. We propose that the Red Mansion and the objects therein are deeply connected to the artist’s unique understanding of home and family, which defines her work, evoking a c aring world that values humans and nonhumans alike.