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Game of Thrones artist lends a splash of colour to Great Yarmouth Sealife Centre

10:25 20 December 2014

The large ocean tank at the Sealife Centre has been given a repaint. Darren Norris painting the model of a diver.  Picture: James Bass

The large ocean tank at the Sealife Centre has been given a repaint. Darren Norris painting the model of a diver. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

Its cavernous insides are home to some of the world’s most mesmerising marine life who are among the star attractions on Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile.

The large ocean tank at the Sealife Centre has been given a repaint. Peter Sammels painting the scenery.  Picture: James BassThe large ocean tank at the Sealife Centre has been given a repaint. Peter Sammels painting the scenery. Picture: James Bass

The ocean tank at the town’s Sealife Centre has long been a draw for delighted visitors both young and old, who stand wide eyed and open mouthed as its giant inhabitants glide around in front of them.

And the huge glass centrepiece is now under going a major refurbishment - with a very specialised pair of hands helping to bring about its transformation.

Darren Norris is among a team from design and build specialists Nautilus who have been moulding, sculpting and painting the inside of the tank to create a new underwater world for its inhabitants.

And for the freelance artist Yarmouth’s bright and breezy seafront is a stark change to the mythical, magical world of Games of Thrones, the fantasy TV drama series where he works in the costume department.

The large ocean tank at the Sealife Centre has been given a repaint. Peter Sammels painting the scenery.  Picture: James BassThe large ocean tank at the Sealife Centre has been given a repaint. Peter Sammels painting the scenery. Picture: James Bass

Mr Norris, who has worked worldwide with Weymouth-based Nautilus, came straight to Yarmouth after wrapping up the series’ fifth season.

He said: “I work doing the break down of the costumes. We do paint effects on the clothes to make them look old, bloody, snow covered; it’s just a different canvas for what I do with Nautilus.”

Mr Norris has worked on Games of Thrones since it started five years ago and said he enjoyed both sides of his artistic career equally.

He and the rest of the Nautilus team have been in Yarmouth for the last two weeks, bringing the inside of the tank back to life with an underwater scene featuring a coral reef and life sized diver.

“We build up a 3D element for the inside of the tank and paint it up to make it look as realistic as we can,” Mr Norris added. “We’re creating an environment for the fish to live in so there has to be certain elements that they would have in the wild, like hiding places.

“And obviously it’s got to be aesthetically pleasing for the public to want to view.”

The artists put the finishing touches to the colourful scene yesterday and the tank is now nearly ready to welcome back its underwater residents.

Christine Pitcher, display supervisor at the centre, thought the team had done a great job and their work had brightened up the tank.

“It’s made it look quite a lot more natural, it does look like you’re looking into an underwater seascape,” she added. “It’s definitely been made with the animals in mind; there’s a couple of places where Noah [the giant green sea turtle] can have a scratch and lots of overhanging corals and rough structures where the fish can hide.

“It’s really nice and colourful yet pleasing to the animals and public.”

Work to the ocean tank will continue into next year and it is hoped the newly revamped space will open to the public in February.

Until then the centre’s shark population have “gone on holiday” to a sister site in Birmingham, while Noah has gone to stay at Hunstanton’s Sealife Centre with fellow giant sea turtle Ernie.

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