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 – coming soon Putting the Art in Our Heart.
  • Upper Fusion Gallery – currently showing Jessica Donolly The Borderlands coming soon 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

We might not be looking our best right now as we have taken down the wonderful exhibition by The Materialistics that brought our visitors lots of festive cheer throughout December.

Coming Soon to The Gallery

Thank you for your patience whist we prepare for our next art exhibition.  ‘Putting the Art in Our Heart’. This exhibition will showcase the talent of artists from our region, and will be part of our 25th anniversary.

To find out more about how you can enter work into the exhibition see Putting the Art in Our in Our Heart.



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.


Coming soon to The Upper Fusion Gallery

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