The Port of Tyne Gallery at The Customs House showcases the very best of national, international and regional contemporary arts practice.

With a changing programme of around six exhibitions a year in our Main Gallery and the same number in our other exhibition spaces, it is the only contemporary gallery space that serves audiences in and across South Tyneside and is a key contributor to the Visual Arts Sector in the North East.

Gallery Exhibition Programme

We have four spaces where we show contemporary art:

  • Main Gallery – focuses on a programme of exhibitions by artists with established practices.
  • Fusion Gallery – shows work by emerging and early career artists as well as work from community projects and regional groups and bodies that we have developed relationships with.
  • The Stairwell Gallery – has been set up for work by young people and local amateur groups, who are passionate about their creative hobby.

Gallery Opening Times:

Monday – Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 11am – 8pm

Please join us on Thursday 17 August from 6-8pm for the Exhibition Preview:

Main Gallery
Anita Taylor
18 August – 12 November 2017

Anita Taylor makes figurative paintings and drawings that explore identity, emotion and narratives. For her, drawing is a fundamental discipline for creative development and it is used as a means to encounter and examine the world. DRAWN provides the opportunity to view the range of Anita Taylor’s drawing practice and includes work spanning the last two decades, from Seeing Something Else [1993] to her most recent works, the Witness series [2017].

These charcoal drawings have formed a continuous strand within her practice for over 30 years. Often using herself as the model, they are not self-portraits in the traditional sense, but use the figure as a vehicle for evoking complex and universal feelings; the viewer becomes complicit in each piece as it mirrors their own mood or preoccupations. The ink drawings explore more expansive themes of mythic narrative and support the development of her large-scale painting, for example, the tale of Tristan and Yseut in the A mon seul desir: Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch, Sound and Sixth Sense [2005-6] series.

This exhibition is presented in two parts; the ink drawings exhibited in the Upper Fusion Space whilst the main Gallery will present an extended series of monumental charcoal self-portrait drawings.

Alongside her practice as an artist, Anita Taylor has worked in art education in numerous roles, including: Director & CEO of the National Art School in Sydney, Australia; Director of The Centre for Drawing at the University of the Arts, London; Dean of Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts, London; and Deputy Head of School, School of Art, Media and Design at the University of Gloucestershire, where she was first awarded a Professorial title in 2002. She co-founded the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 1994, a renowned annual award and touring exhibition that showcases current drawing practice in the UK. She is Executive Dean of Bath School of Art and Design at Bath Spa University and current chair of CHEAD. She is also co-director of Drawing Projects UK in Trowbridge, Wiltshire – a space for artist residencies, workshops and exhibitions dedicated to drawing.

This exhibition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Bath School of Art & Design, Bath Spa University.

Lower Fusion Gallery
Helen Stephenson – Life Drawing Studies
18 August – 12 November 2017

Helen’s exhibition brings together a body of new work exploring her love of life drawing; from rapid 3 minute poses to 30 minutes detailed studies. Constantly drawing and painting as a child, Helen Stephenson took up drawing again some six years ago, first attending a life class and latterly attending landscape sessions with Hexham based artist Enrique Azocar and working in oils. She has also attended portraiture courses in London and has an enduring interest in the human face and form.

After a varied and successful career in law and public relations, Helen has gone back to her first love; drawing. At last enjoying the freedom to experiment, Helen has drawn the human form in charcoal, ink, pastel, water colour and oil. Her current favourite is a quick and lively ink and wash technique which allow form to be put down quickly and mass and volume added with washes; speed and spontaneity are her touchstones.

Always sympathetic to the subject, Helen chooses a medium that suits her sitter: the craggy, strong lines of charcoal for the muscular male model and a more controlled wash for the elegant lines of the female model. She uses her own bespoke ‘monster’ drawing board and rolls of lining paper with big brush pens to make bold and speedy life size life drawings. Her aim is to reveal the elegance and energy of the human form.

Whilst adult models (on the whole) stay still and controlled for at least 20 minutes, children are restless and move about. Though Helen catches babies asleep in small pencil sketches, the artist loves the joyful exuberance of older children. To capture these moments, the artist has slowed videos into single frames to draw children as they leap, run and dance. To add to the vitality of the subject, she uses concertina books to show almost a cartoon sequence of small images, as children romp through the pages in a hundred different moves.

Helen’s reunion with her first love – art – has given her huge ambition for the future as she plans portraits and bigger landscapes. Though an emerging artist at present, Helen has such passion for what she is doing and now, nothing can stop her development process. She will continue to make and show work and we are delighted to have given her the opportunity to share her practice with our audiences.

For more information, email Lesley Guy, Gallery Learning Officer at

Banner image: Helen Stephenson – 3 min study composition, charcoal on paper 2017


The Gallery Exhibition Programme is booked a year in advance and is developed through a direct working relationship between the Gallery Curator and artist(s).

If you are interested in being part of our Gallery Exhibition Programme, please send a detailed proposal demonstrating why you would like to show with us, a selection of images of current work, an up to date CV and any relevant material to support your application, addressed to the Gallery Curator.

Gallery Learning Programme

Our Gallery Learning Programme includes activities events and projects for all age groups and abilities. We work with both the local community and formal education sector, hosting activities that range from artist talks, gallery tours, a drawing club and a series of creative masterclasses. We have recently received funding from The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and The Community Foundation to develop YI, a programme of visual arts activities for 14-19 year olds. If you are an artist or educator and wish to work with us, please send your CV with details of the relevant teaching experience to our Gallery Learning Officer.

For the Gallery Exhibition Programme please get in touch with Esen Kaya, Gallery Curator

For Gallery Learning, please get in touch with Lesley Guy, Gallery Learning Officer