Yılmaz Öngün, 65, once dreamed of becoming an architect. Now he fulfills his passion with the art of wood etching.
Öngün, who hails from the central region of Aksaray, studied engineering because he was unable to obtain the required academic score to study architecture. After graduating from a university in Aksaray, Öngün became an electrical engineer but his childhood dream to become an archetect did not fade. Thirty years ago he came across the art of wood etching and embraced the art form, likening it to architecture. He turned the art of wood etching into a hobby over time, learning the craft on his own. Making architectural etchings at first, he realized he had a flair for handicrafts and began to etch renderings of historical places on wood with a soldering iron.
Öngün, who etched a depiction of the historical Güzelyurt houses in his hometown Aksaray, which he describes as the entrance gate of Cappadocia, continues his dream job as a hobby in the workshop he established after retiring from the institution he worked for. He depicts the beauties of Cappadocia and calls it his "treasure trove."
Explaining that he learned the art of wood etching on his own by trial and error, Öngün said: "While I was working as a public servant I attempted to enter architecture. When that did not happen I chose an occupation that I felt was similar. More precisely, I see this more as a hobby than a profession. I started the art of etching as a hobby and I've been doing this for about 30 years. I'm improving as I go."
He said that when he first started etching, the art did not exist in Aksaray or Nevşehir. "I learned it myself. I didn't have any master tradespeople to teach me. Sometimes I made mistakes, other times I did it right. After all, I am still continuing this work that I have been doing for 30 years. It continues as a hobby," he explained.
Öngün says that Cappadocia and its fairy chimneys are a treasure trove for him: "Cappadocia, especially the Ihlara Valley and the fairy chimneys, is a treasure trove for me. Why a treasure? I owe it to myself to promote Cappadocia, especially the touristic regions, on behalf of my hometown," he said.
He explained the rationale behind why he calls the region his treasure trove. "The reason why I say treasure especially is that the subject of my paintings is the Ihlara Valley, fairy chimneys, Selime, Selime Cathedral and the Güzelyurt houses," Öngün said, adding that tourism is very important because his hometown Aksaray is the gateway to Cappadocia, and Aksaray is rich in historical and touristic value.
"I think it is my duty to transfer this treasure to the next generations through etchings and renderings," he added.