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 – showing The Materialistic Winter Wonderland soon.
  • Upper Fusion Gallery – currently showing Jessica Donolly The Borderlands.
  • 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

The Materialistics – Winter Wonderland

Monday 3rd December until late January 2019

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

The Materialistics have opened a new exhibition just in time for panto season.

The ‘Winter Wonderland’  exhibition features a wide range of imaginative characters. See snow creatures, Santa’s mischievous helpers and hanging icicles and snowflakes. However Father Christmas himself is nowhere to be seen. He’s gearing up for the busiest time of the year.

The group work collaboratively crafting incredible textile artworks. They are well known to visitors here at The Customs House. Director of Operations Catherine Hymers said,

 “The exhibition aims to inspire all our visitors to lose themselves in a magical knitted, crocheted and stitched winter wonderland. The exhibition follows the success of Materialistics previous exhibitions Casting Off… A Coat for a Boat. The Knitted Victorian Christmas, The Grand Tour and Once Upon A Story Time. And most recently their remembrance poppy installation. The Materialistics created four fabric poppies,  hung on the chimney stack opposite our building. This is yet another incredible exhibition.”

Snow Covered Tree

Snow Covered Tree

Elizabeth Kane Learning Officer said,

“The Materialistics have spent over a week ensuring their exhibition is perfect. Having spent hundreds of hours creating their snowy landscape perhaps that isn’t so surprising?

Every visitor coming to our pantomimes Beauty and the Beast or Santas Naught Elf can enjoy visiting the exhibition to spot all the creatures. I love the snow hedgehogs. They roll up into a snowball if startled. We ask visitors to help keep the exhibition pristine and enjoy with our eyes only! ”

Staff at The Customs House wish to thank The Materialistics. The knitters have again produced a high quality exhibition that adds to the magical Christmas atmosphere here at The Customs House.

If you are a nursery group, school or playgroup and really can’t resist getting hands on The Materialistics have kindly provided a sensory basket. Contact Elizabeth Kane Learning Officer on or telephone 0191 427 8198 to arrange to loan the basket on your self-led gallery visit.


Upper Fusion Gallery

Jessica Donnelly – The Borderlands

8 September 2018 – 25 January 2019


Jessica’s work pays homage to forgotten stories, history and folklore.

It is human nature to tell stories. For instance, early civilisations used storytelling to make sense of the world, especially things beyond their understanding. Using elements from Western European folktales such as The Children of Lir, The Wild Swans and The Merrow, Jessica has created new imagery and opened up new stories. She uses a wide range of drawing media including fineliner, ink, acrylic paint, graphite and charcoal.  The artist intends for these drawings to encourage the viewer to explain the unexplainable and create their own stories.

North East illustrator Jessica Donnelly currently creates work from a shed at the bottom of her garden. Jess graduated from the University of Sunderland in 2016 and is the winner of the Takeover Open Exhibition 19-25 years category. She is currently working on a new series of drawings depicting local legends from around South Tyneside. To find out more see

Jessica Donnelly. The Borderlands - Swan.

Jessica Donnelly. The Borderlands – Swan.


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