Last Thursday 13th July Meg Gage Williams, founder of the legendary Stick No Bills® Poster business which straddles the two island paradises of Sri Lanka and Mallorca, was sitting down for breakfast in Palma, capital of Mallorca.
Just a few hours had passed since Meg had confirmed to the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society's founder Ravi Corea that she wanted to donate profits from all sales of her latest design - an image depicting an elephant surfing - to the preservation of Sri Lanka's elephant population.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with Stick No Bills® or Meg, here's a quick run down. Meg was formerly the Senior Vice President of one of the largest private security companies in the world, a firm founded by senior ex-special forces and law enforcement agents in 2001 from which she resigned in 2008 to start a family and ‘be the change’ she wanted to see the in world.
Meg and her husband Philip moved to Galle where they managed a surf hotel and Meg - cathartically tapping into the experiences and contacts she had gained during her career working in the intelligence and investigation arenas in the United States, United Kingdom and across conflicts zones of the Middle East, Africa and Asia - became the script advisor to the highly successful prime time British TV show Spooks.
Between when Sri Lanka’s war ended in 2009 and 2012, the couple had their two daughters, surfed most sunrises, launched the Galle Fort Flea Market and became founding members of Greener Galle, the community launched initiative to transform Galle Fort into the first carbon neutral UNESCO world heritage city. They also founded an advertising and marketing services company called Galle Productions PVT LTD with the aim of giving Sri Lanka free positive branding to the world through the promotion of vintage and retro Ceylon/Sri Lanka travel poster designs encouraging tourists to come to the island.
The British gallerists recognised that by exploiting Philip’s expertise gained working in advertising for the Financial Times Group in London and latterly as an advertising and fashion photographer in the Middle East, they could do something “good for Sri Lanka and good for us” by providing a free national branding campaign through the exhibition of their digitally remastered lithograph posters in Galle Fort and their launching of the No Bill Piece Prize, their open ended international travel poster design contest.
In the meantime, with the help of a well known Sri Lankan, a Galle based restauranteur and businessman and an amazing all female team of gallery girls, Stick No Bills®' first poster gallery, the retail outlet for sale of the British couple’s designs, was born. The doors of the flagship gallery at 35 Church Street have been open from 8am to 8pm 365 ever since and Stick No Bills® also supplies a dozen other prestigious mini-galleries island wide, at prestigious locales such as the Shangri La, Barefoot, Resplendent Ceylon and the Hilton. As soon as Stick No Bills® started to thrive the company also began to donate money through the sales of specific designs to noble local conservation and sustainability-orientated causes such as The Galle Heritage Foundation.
Fast forward to July 2017 in Spain at breakfast. A good friend of Meg’s from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration's maritime division phoned Meg from Long Island New York … ”Holy cow, have you heard the news?” he blurted. "The Sri Lankan Navy have just rescued an elephant swimming ten miles out to sea on the east coast”.
Meg was confused, was this some kind of joke? The day before she had just agreed with Ravi Corea that she would donate to his wonderful elephant preservation charity from money generated by her newest design. Now a Sri Lankan elephant had been rescued swimming ten miles off shore??! Sure enough within hours the story had reached the front page of the Guardian newspaper.
See the poster design below for confirmation of the amazing coincidence.
In the words of Ravi Corea:
"It is indeed an amazing coincidence plus serves as a very good sign for the success of the partnership between our two organisations".
Was it a coincidence, was it a PR stunt, do elephants really surf and did this elephant lose his surfboard somewhere off the east coast? Pigs might not fly but elephants definitely surf.See the Sri Lankan Navy rescue here...
Donate to the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society here... Donate | SLWCS.
See the poster here... Elephant Surfari, West Coast, 1970s.
The poster will be on sale at Stick No Bills® Flagship Gallery in Galle Fort and at Barefoot in Colombo from this Friday 21st July.