Artist Kelly creates amazing images of long-lost Ipswich pubs

Artist Kelly Will at work on her imaginative one-line drawings and watercolours of old pubs in Ipswi

Artist Kelly Will at work on her imaginative one-line drawings and watercolours of old pubs in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Artist Kelly Will has created amazing images of bygone Ipswich pubs like the Sun Inn, the Alexandra Beer House and The Eclipse.

A single line drawing and watercolour of The Running Buck, St Margaret's Plain, Ipswich, which close

A single line drawing and watercolour of The Running Buck, St Margaret's Plain, Ipswich, which closed in 1991 Picture: KELLY WILL - Credit: KELLY WILL

All three of those evocatively-named inns had closed down by the early 1920s - but you can see them in full colour, thanks to her imaginative artworks.

Kelly is fascinated by the town’s historic pub culture.

The Old Bell Inn in Ipswich, pictured in an imaginative watercolour Picture: KELLY WILL

The Old Bell Inn in Ipswich, pictured in an imaginative watercolour Picture: KELLY WILL - Credit: KELLY WILL

Over recent months, she has been busy creating continuous-line drawings, with watercolour washes, of the pubs we loved and lost in decades gone by.

“I have worked in pubs around the town and love the pub culture and the fact that it’s timeless,” she said.

A watercolour of The Sun Inn in St Stephen's Lane, Ipswich, which closed in 1900 Picture: KELLY WILL

A watercolour of The Sun Inn in St Stephen's Lane, Ipswich, which closed in 1900 Picture: KELLY WILL - Credit: KELLY WILL


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“I have a romantic idea of people sitting in a comfortable space, in front of roaring fires. The Old Bell on Stoke Bridge was the first one I did. I think I am going to do a lot more.

The 30-year-old artist has battled health problems, and underwent critical brain surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge at Christmas 2014.

Artist Kelly Will at work on her imaginative one-line drawings and watercolours of old pubs in Ipswi

Artist Kelly Will at work on her imaginative one-line drawings and watercolours of old pubs in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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After being diagnosed with a brain aneurysm when only 24, she had a four-and-a-half hour operation to save her life.

Although she has recovered well physically, the ordeal has taken its toll. She said: “I have some PTSD. Physically, my brain is fine at the moment. I still have scans.”

Kelly Will's single line drawing and watercolour of the Alexandra Beer House in Carr Street, Ipswich

Kelly Will's single line drawing and watercolour of the Alexandra Beer House in Carr Street, Ipswich, which closed in 1920 Picture: KELLY WILL - Credit: KELLY WILL

MORE: Shy painter’s works go up for saleSince undergoing her life-saving surgery, Kelly completed a masters degree in art at University Campus Suffolk in 2016.

Earlier this year she held her first exhibition since completing her masters, One Line Allegory, after 18 months of preparation, at the Frame Workshop and Gallery,

A painting of the Eclipse Inn in Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich, which closed in 1923 Picture: KELLY W

A painting of the Eclipse Inn in Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich, which closed in 1923 Picture: KELLY WILL - Credit: KELLY WILL

Many of the artworks in that exhibition were created not in pubs but in coffee shops, where Kelly loves to work.

She says on her website: “I love to people watch - as a wallflower I aim to capture the present moment from the sideline of people’s experiences.”

Artist Kelly Will at work on her imaginative one-line drawings and watercolours of old pubs in Ipswi

Artist Kelly Will at work on her imaginative one-line drawings and watercolours of old pubs in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Kelly likes to draw people as they behave naturally - and they are often unaware of the nearby artist, although some do notice her drawing. She said individuals are not identifiable unless it is someone she knows..

MORE: 26 artists who took inspiration from East AngliaWhen lockdown meant she could not draw in coffee shops, Kelly decided to draw on her imagination to show how old Ipswich pubs used to look.

Artist Kelly Will at work on her imaginative one-line drawings and watercolours of old pubs in Ipswi

Artist Kelly Will at work on her imaginative one-line drawings and watercolours of old pubs in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

In some cases, there are no colour photos of long-lost pubs in existence, so her imaginative watercolours are the only colour images of these once popular inns.

Other buildings have been preserved but are no longer in use as pubs. For instance, The Running Buck is now The Key cafe, a Christian-based centre.

A painting from Kelly Will's exhibition earlier this year, of a scene in Caffe Nero Picture: KELLY W

A painting from Kelly Will's exhibition earlier this year, of a scene in Caffe Nero Picture: KELLY WILL - Credit: KELLY WILL

Kelly has more than one reason for choosing to do single-line drawings. She loves using a continuous line because of the immediacy and rawness it gives to her work, but she also started drawing in this way for other reasons.

MORE: 10 artists inspired by the region“I am left-handed, but I think I have got carpal tunnel - it’s not diagnosed but was being investigated before lockdown,” she said.

One of the paintings from Kelly Will's exhibition earlier this year, from inside Caffe Nero Picture:

One of the paintings from Kelly Will's exhibition earlier this year, from inside Caffe Nero Picture: KELLY WILL - Credit: KELLY WILL

“So I decided to try to draw with my right hand.”

As her skill with her right hand has deepened, Kelly has now developed an amazing ambidextrous way of working.

This painting of refugees is soon due to be in an exhibition in Aldeburgh Picture: KELLY WILL

This painting of refugees is soon due to be in an exhibition in Aldeburgh Picture: KELLY WILL - Credit: KELLY WILL

She now often does the single line drawing with her right hand and the watercolour painting with her left hand.

To see more of Kelly’s work, follow @kellywillpaintyou on Facebook and Instagram and visit her website.

Some of Kelly's studies of faces Picture: KELLY WILL

Some of Kelly's studies of faces Picture: KELLY WILL - Credit: KELLY WILL

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