The Customs House showcases a range of visual art forms reflecting our work with our local community.


The Customs House has several exhibition spaces.

  • The Customs House Gallery – Our gallery is currently between shows.
  • Upper Fusion Gallery – The Treasure Group Imaginary UK Tour
  • The Step Up Gallery – celebrates the amazing creative talent of children across South Tyneside.



We are currently between exhibitions but please check back for updates.


Coming in 2020

Takeover Open

Look our for Takeover Open in May. Do you paint, print, draw, collage, take photos? Young artists from the North East of England we want your art! Part of our annual Takeover Youth Art Festival in association with Newbridge Project and EMR Metal Recycling.

What Can I Submit

Work must be no larger than 2m x 2m. Ideally work should be framed to protect it.  You are responsible for insuring your artwork should you choose to do so. The gallery is a public space and used for a variety of events. We will not accept responsibility for any accidental damage. We can accept paintings, collages, drawings and other two dimensional wall based artworks.

Dropping Off Your Artwork

Work needs to be dropped of at The Customs House at the box office by Monday 11th May. You must include your name, title of the artwork, age, postcode, and contact details on the reverse of your artwork. If you are under 16 please include a parent/guardians details.

Visiting Your Exhibition

The exhibition runs from 18th May to 1st July and our preview party will be on Monday 25th May. We would hope to welcome all exhibiting artists to this free celebratory event. We’re so proud to share your work with our audiences.

Collection Date IMPORTANT

Work must be collected on Saturday 4th July. If this presents any problems please talk to us. Work that isn’t collected cannot be stored and we will donate to a local charity.For more information  email

Sheila Graber – An Animated Life Friday 10th July to Sunday September 27th

In July The Customs House will be exhibiting work by animator, artist and Customs House Fellow Sheila Graber. This exhibition will complement the exhibition opening in May at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery. Sheila will be sharing a selection of drawings and artwork used to create animations from the BFI in London. This is a chance for visitors to purchase affordable original artwork.

Alongside the exhibition are planning a series of exciting events and screenings. Booking opens for these events soon.

On the day of Sheila’s preview Friday 10th July you will have a chance to explore her artwork from 6pm and then join us for a special screening starting at 7pm. We are hosting a Pay What you Decide Screening in our cinema of some of Sheila’s animations. Join Ray Spencer as he chats to Sheila about her life’s work. Pick up your complimentary tickets from box office and then donate to support The Customs House Trust after the show.

My Tyneside with Janis Blower and Sheila Graber: an animated talk with cake and a cuppa

On Wednesday 12th August from 2pm to 3.30pm hear from former Shields Gazette Features’ Editor and Local Historian Janis Blower as she explores Sheila Graber’s ‘My Tyneside’ illustrated book. Local landmarks will be brought to life. A journey through time depicted by one of Tyneside’s great artists. If you loved ‘Shields on Film’ in January don’t miss this chance to walk down memory lane once again. Tickets will be £5 per person.

Amazing Artists with Jean Stokes and Sheila Graber: an animated talk with cake and a cuppa

Our final event on Wednesday 9th September from 2pm to 3.30pm will be ‘Amazing Artists’. Jean Stokes joins Sheila and together they talk about Sheila’s animated exploration of some of the most well loved artists from Van Gogh’s Starry Night to Mondrian’s Boogie Woogie. Perfect for those curious about the loves of artists. Tickets will be £5 per person.

Step Up Gallery 

Schools’ Drawing  Exhibition 

Tucked away next to our studio be sure to visit our Schools’ drawing exhibition all about Snow White. This exhibition presents drawings by children from Barnes Infant Academy, Dunn Street Primary School, Sunningdale School and Harton Primary.

Reception children from Barnes Infant Academy have drawn the main characters from this well known and much loved story. Elizabeth Kane Learning and Participation Officer The Customs House said:

“ This is the first year that Barnes Infants have taken part in our annual schools’ drawing exhibition. We hope when they visit our pantomime, as they do every year, all the artists are thrilled to see their work proudly displayed at our busiest time of the year.”


For the second year Harton Primary have submitted a superb selection of drawings. These drawings are by pupils from across the school. They have used a wide variety of materials. Elizabeth said:

“I am impressed Harton’s artists have had the freedom to create such personal and varied responses to the theme Snow White. It’s clear the arts are really valued at Harton primary.”

Children from Dunn Street created an observational drawing by looking closely at photographs of our cast. After making their first sketch they made a second drawing refining their drawings. We added a splash of colour inspired by award winning designer Paul Shriek costumes.

“ Mrs Giles class were eager to try new things. They showed great determination when I set them some tricky drawing challenges. What’s more I had a lovely surprise with the school kindly donating money towards our Heart of the House campaign. Their generosity helps ensure more young people like them can work with The Customs House to have excellent arts experiences. ”

Finally we have a set of Snow White portraits from Sunningdale school. Sunningdale school are the only school in Sunderland for children aged two to eleven with Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties including Autism.

“ I love the children’s use of glitter adding some panto pizzazz and how they incorporated their hand prints in their artwork. Making these artworks would have been a really rich sensory experience.”

We hope you enjoy exploring this exhibition as much as we have enjoyed displaying their work.

For more information about our work with schools please see our schools, colleges and university page here.

Upper Fusion Gallery 

The Treasure Group – An Imaginary Tour

Our Imaginary UK Tour exhibition in the Upper Fusion Gallery.

Our Imaginary UK Tour exhibition in the Upper Fusion Gallery.

Exhibition opens to the public on May 14th until date tbc.

We’re taking down this exhibition very soon and will be moving our Step Up Gallery to the space. This will improve accessibility for our young artists and visitors ensuring everyone can see and celebrate their work.

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, Colleges and University Page.