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Artist Kelly creates amazing images of long-lost Ipswich pubs

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 September 2020

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

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

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 closed in 1991 Picture: KELLY WILLA single line drawing and watercolour of The Running Buck, St Margaret's Plain, Ipswich, which closed in 1991 Picture: 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 WILLThe Old Bell Inn in Ipswich, pictured in an imaginative watercolour Picture: 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 WILLA watercolour of The Sun Inn in St Stephen's Lane, Ipswich, which closed in 1900 Picture: KELLY WILL

“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.

Kelly Will working on one of her paintings  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDKelly Will working on one of her paintings Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

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

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Since 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 WILLA painting of the Eclipse Inn in Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich, which closed in 1923 Picture: 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.”

Kelly Will uses both hands to create her art works Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDKelly Will uses both hands to create her art works Picture: 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..

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When 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.

Kelly Will with one of her paintings  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDKelly Will with one of her paintings Picture: 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 WILLA painting from Kelly Will's exhibition earlier this year, of a scene in Caffe Nero Picture: 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.

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“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: KELLY WILLOne of the paintings from Kelly Will's exhibition earlier this year, from inside Caffe Nero Picture: 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 WILLThis painting of refugees is soon due to be in an exhibition in Aldeburgh Picture: 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.


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