The Customs House showcases a range of visual art forms reflecting our work with our local community.
Please note we are not currently accepting proposals.


The Customs House. has four key exhibition spaces.

  • The Customs House Gallery – The Customs House 25th Anniversary Open Exhibition
  • Upper Fusion Gallery – Emma Garrod Eye-Illustrate.
  • The Stairwell and Lower Fusion Gallery – shows work by our adult drawing group.
  • The Step Up Gallery – celebrates the amazing creative talent of children across South Tyneside. Currently showing our annual schools’ drawing exhibition inspired by Beauty and the Beast.


The Customs House Gallery


25th Anniversary Open Exhibition

Preview Friday 4th Feb 2019 6pm

Opens 5th Feb 2019

Closes – tbc


We are pleased to present this exhibition celebrating The Customs House’s 25th anniversary. Please take a moment to appreciate the artworks. There is silk painting to acrylics on canvas and everything in between.

For some of our artists, this might have been the first time they’ve made work. It could reflect a keen interest or perhaps they are better known for performing. What unites these artists is their connection to The Customs House. Without their passion for the visual arts this exhibition would not be possible. For that a huge thanks.

Why an Open Exhibition?

Following the success of The Takeover Open Exhibition (for younger artists) we are delighted to present this open art for local people aged 25 and over. This is another fantastic opportunity to view work by our talented people from our community.

An open exhibition is one where anyone who wants to can put forward work to be displayed. Sometimes there is a selection process. In this case we are pleased to say every artwork submitted has been displayed. Open exhibitions can be an important way for emerging artists to start to have gallery exhibitions on their CV or just a fun opportunity to try something new. We thought an Open fit well with our ethos of being a place where you can grow your talent.

Our 25th Anniversary

The exhibition forms part of our programme of special events for our 25th anniversary. For 25 years The Customs House has given many people across South Tyneside their first taste of the arts.

Our anniversary provides the chance to look back on what we have accomplished with the help of so many people AND look towards The Customs House’s future. If you want to be part of building our future please consider dedicating a heart. Details can be found at The Box Office.

Thank you to the artists and volunteers who made this exhibition possible.

To see the original callout for this open exhibition visit Putting the Art in Our in Our Heart.



Upper Fusion Gallery – Coming soon

Emma Garrod – Eye-Illustrate

Preview Friday 8th Feb 2019 4.30-5.30pm

9 Feb – 21st April

Emma Garrod: Eye-Illustrate

Think of then you last saw an illustration? Perhaps you recall an image in a child’s picture book? Or the drawn images we see online on websites or social media?

Illustration is everywhere. Illustration is in our homes, at work, in our libraries like The Word and theatres like The Customs House Arts Centre think of the amazing sets you may have seen in Beauty and the Beast. Illustrators understand how to look, draw and use a shared visual language to convey a message.

Newcastle born Emma Garrod combines traditional drawing materials and digital techniques in her illustrations. Her sketchbooks capture places and buildings around our region. They also contain loving depictions of animals and popular icons that inspire Emma.

An artist’s quality of line is like a person’s signature. Each individual has their own recognisable traits whether in writing or drawing. How would you describe the lines in Emma’s illustrations? Words like sensitive, light, evocative and energetic may come to mind.

This selling exhibition celebrates Emma Garrod’s unique illustrative style and range of interests and gives you the opportunity to own an artwork by an emerging local artist.

About the Illustrator

Emma gained a first from her Animation degree from The University of Glamorgan in Cardiff in 2014. She then spent a year studying Visual Development for Animation and Film at the Academy of Art in San Francisco in the USA. In 2017 Emma completed an MA in Children’s Book Illustration from Cambridge School of Art at the Anglia Ruskin University. In that year Emma’s work considered for the V&A Student Illustration Award 2017 in London.

To find out more see

'Harry Kane' © Reproduced by kind permission of Emma Garrod

‘Harry Kane’ ©
Reproduced by kind permission of Emma Garrod


Learn and Take Part

If you are a teacher and interested in completing a creative project or workshop with your class or CPD please see our Schools Learning Programme page.

If you are interested in joining the waiting list for our adult drawing class ‘Drawn Together’ please email the group lead artist Lesley Guy at