Thousands turn out to see Heart of the House as organisers hail success of Customs House 25th anniversary event

Thousands of people turned out to see the light fantastic as an awesome artwork lit up the Customs House as the much-loved venue celebrates its 25th anniversary. Heart of the House, a sound and light spectacular, projected dazzling designs onto two sides of the historic building, which is marking a quarter of a century this year.

The artwork, which ran on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, was delivered by NOVAK, an award-winning creative design agency, who won a joint commission from the Customs House and The Cultural Spring, an Arts Council England-funded project working to increase arts participation in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

More than 300 local people were involved in creating Heart of the House, making banners and flags in workshops for a walkway leading up to the venue, and helping local musician and composer Ed Carter create an original soundscape which helped brings the film to life.

“We were delighted so many came down to see Heart of the House and we’ve had some amazing feedback. The weather was poor on Friday, but hundreds still popped down to watch the film – including many on a cruise ship moored on the opposite side of the Tyne,” said Cultural Spring Co-Director Emma Scarr.

“Our audiences picked up as the weather improved and we had well over a thousand people on Sunday night, which was great.”

Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, added: “Heart of the House was a lovely tribute to what we do here and successfully captured many elements that make up The Customs House – our panto, the annual magic festival, Jason Cook’s regular comedy club, our work with young people and in our communities.”

Christine Smith, from South Shields, said: “I came down in the rain on Friday with my daughter, but loved it so much brought a group of friends back when it was a bit drier on Sunday.

“I kept seeing something different every time I watched the ten-minute film, and I also loved the imagination and creativity behind the flags and banners as you walked down to The Customs House. The music was lovely too – haunting and melodic.”

Image credit: Richard Kenworthy