Messages of hope fly in “Living Trees’ in Columbia, Tyrell County, last year. Photo courtesy of Edith Deltgen

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Edith Deltgen wants people in pain to reach out with messages of hope on Swan Quarter trees.

Deltgen, an artist in Columbia, Tyrell County, is recreating her “Living Tree Project,” where messages are written on fabric strips and tied to trees and bushes, in Swan Quarter on April 28 and 29.

Hailing from Germany, Deltgen was reeling from the unexpected death of her son last August. This followed her daughter’s death four years prior.

“I know what horror people go through with mental illness, drug addiction and cancer,” she said in an email about the impetus for the project. “To raise awareness and have people pull together as a community, I came up with the idea to share my pain with others.”

So, last year she and volunteers from Columbia and the Pocosin Art Center cut over 800 pieces of fabric, distributed them to many places in and around Columbia, and then decorated trees at Christmas along the riverfront.

“It was a huge success,” she said.

School students, residents, businesses, even inmates and employees of the Tyrell County prison/work farm participated by tying fabric with handwritten notes on seven trees.

“We got names of lost loved ones, good wishes, Christmas notes, Bible quotes and poetry,” she said. “A lot of heartfelt messages and drawings could be found. Many included names of lost relatives.”

The decorated trees blew in the wind for a month.

“Lots of people came to read the notes and put their own messages on the trees,” she said.

After she removed all 714 pieces of fabric, Deltgen fashioned a large collage.

The Hyde County commissioners in March approved Deltgen’s project for Swan Quarter’s park at the gazebo area.

Deltgen’s collage of the Columbia project will hang there and a box of fabric strips and markers will be there for anyone to add their messages during the one-month display.

She plans to involve all corners of the Swan Quarter community.  She welcomes volunteer help obtaining and cutting fabric and hanging the messages before and during the events. 

Those interested in helping Deltgen can call her at 252-207-3496.

On Friday of the event, Hyde County school children will help decorate the gazebo, and on Saturday, the MATTIE arts center will help.

In November this year, trees in Belhaven will carry messages and Deltgen hopes to also do this project on Ocracoke.



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