Pesta Sweeps Through Town


This 6-layer linocut reduction is being sold with all proceeds going to Street Cats YYC. There is a limited edition of 13 which have been printed, once they are gone, they are gone for good.

In stock


Scandinavian folklore speaks of a plague hag, named Pesta, who wiped out entire communities in the 1340s as she walked from town to town spreading the Black Death.  If she was seen with a broom, it signified that all lives would be lost; if she appeared with a rake, it meant that some would be spared. Folks would shut up their windows, close their doors, and try their best to ignore the situation in hopes that Pesta would pass over their houses, sparing their lives. Some tales speak to her having a male companion with a shovel and some variations have her carrying a ledger with the names of all the lives she has taken, however, all representations end in death for the townsfolk. While visits from Pesta have long since faded into the realm of myth, that Nimby (not-in-my-backyard) mentality has endured and is particularly evident in how we have been addressing the opioid crisis here in Alberta.

The latest reports from Health Analytics Alberta indicate that accidental deaths by opioid overdose have doubled in Alberta since 2019, and this is only accounting for the first half of 2023. One organization making a significant difference in Calgary is Street Cats YYC, providing education and support for those living in active addiction and the folks who love them. One of the main premises of Street Cats YYC is ‘Harm Reduction’, which is a trauma-informed approach to meeting people where they are but not leaving them there. The overall goal of Harm Reduction is drug policy reform, safer substance use and a reduction in HIV and Hep C transmission.

Ophelia Payne has chosen to depict Pesta sweeping through a dark alley with her rake. This seven-colour linocut reduction will be sold with proceeds going to Street Cats YYC.

Additional information

Dimensions 16 × 20 in


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