North East Skinny Dip founder who spent two and a half hours creating Time to Talk sand art on Roker beach tells us why

The creator of the sand art at Roker that shared an emotional message of mental health has spoken to us about why it was done.

Sunday, 9th February 2020, 2:08 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 12:26 pm

On Thursday, February 6 – Time to Talk Day – Brian Priest captured some photos of a message in sand with his drone before the tide swept it away and wanted to find the woman who had told him she had made it.

The sand art said: “She was drowning, but nobody saw her struggle...”

Jax Higginson, the 41-year-old founder of North East Skinny Dip is the woman behind the idea John Alderson captured photos of her creating the message.

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Jax Higginson working on the sand art on Roker Beach. Pic by John Alderson. Inset the finished piece. Pic by Brian Priest.

Jax told the Echo how she began making sand art with her brother, Ben Higginson, 32, and has since been heading to Roker at least once a week to work on new designs.

She believes this is her first mental health related piece but hopes to do more on days like Time to Talk. The art took her two and a half hours to complete but she has previously spent four hours with her brother on larger art.

She said: “I’ve always enjoyed being on the beach and being creative.

“Sharing time with my brother is so important and this is a great way to do something together that means something. We’ve both had a pretty hard time recently so it’s been really good for us and it feels even better now knowing its having an affect on other people.

Sand art was left on Roker beach for Time to Talk Day. Photo: Brian Priest

“Creating sand art helps my mental health. It’s a good way for me to relax. It’s so moving to see how many people resonated with my message because they understand the emotion that I was trying to express.

“I’m so glad Brian captured it before the tide swept it away. We were lucky.

“I’m all about speaking out and being open and healing together and I’m glad my sand art shared this.”

Jax also spreads that message through North East Skinny Dip where those who register create a direct pledge to MIND - The Mental Health Charity.

John Alderson captured photos of Jax creating the art at Roker.

To find out more about Time to Change visit

Sunderland residents have reacted to the message in the sand and praised the artist.

This is what you said in reaction to the emotional note.

Paige Hunter, a teenager from Plains Farm who is known in Sunderland for leaving messages of support and hope around the city, said: “Hit me hard! Powerful message.”

Vicky Sibson said: “Very powerful message.”

Margaret Garrett commented: “That is a beautiful thing you are doing. Mental health is not an illness you can see but if you can help one person it is worth it.”

Diane Aricioglu added: “Beautiful and a powerful message. Stay strong.”

Selene Holyoak agreed, saying: “So simple but powerful. Beautifully done.”

Irene Corner said: “Amazing and sad.”

Gaye Wilson commented: “Wonderful. Keep strong.”

Henry Stockport said: “Respect to the lady” and Hank Witherspoon added: “Well done the woman.”

Cherelle McDonough, June Todd and Nichola Austin Ratcliffe simply said: “Beautiful.”

Brian Robson commented: “Really does hit the spot.”