Caroline Coon

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Caroline Coon
Born1945 (age 77–78)
London, England

Caroline Coon (born 1945) is an English artist, journalist and political activist. Her artwork often explores sexual themes from a feminist standpoint.[1] Coon had her first solo painting exhibition at the Gallery Liverpool entitled "Caroline Coon: The Great Offender" which ran through May 2018.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Coon was born to a family of Kent landowners and had five brothers. She left home at 16 and moved to London to find a job. She lived in Notting Hill and began by doing some modelling work, including making a softcore porn film.[3][4] Trained as a figurative painter, she became involved in the 1960s underground movement in London while attending art school.

She was educated at Legat Ballet School (1950–55), the Royal Ballet School (1955–61), Northampton College of Art (Fine Art Pre-diploma 1963–65), Central St Martins College of Art (Fine Art 1965–67) and Brunel University London (PSE 1970–72).[5]

Life and work[edit]

In 1967, with Rufus Harris, she co-founded Release, an agency set up to provide legal advice and arrange legal representation for young people charged with the possession of drugs.[6]

In the 1970s, she became involved in the London punk scene, writing about bands for Melody Maker and providing artwork for groups including the Clash, whom she briefly managed, and the Police. Her interviews and reviews were noted for interrogating the attitudes of leading punk bands toward gender and sexuality.[7]

In 1995 her painting Mr Olympia was not shown at Tate Liverpool because the male subject had a semi-erect penis.[1] In June 2000 she won damages of £40,000 and legal costs of £33,000 from publisher Random House after author Jonathon Green made false claims regarding her in his 1998 book All Dressed Up: the Sixties and the Counterculture.[8] Coon published an intimate memoir, Laid Bare, in 2016.[9]

She remains politically active, campaigning primarily for feminist causes, including the legalisation of prostitution and the legalisation of drugs.[6]


In the "Punky Business" episode of the BBC comedy series The Goodies, Jane Asher plays a parody of Coon ("Caroline Kook"), the dream lover of Tim Brooke-Taylor's aspiring punk rock star. Coon also inspired Robert Wyatt's lyrics for the Matching Mole song "O Caroline", the Stranglers' "London Lady" and, in her view,[10] Bob Dylan's "She Belongs to Me", although other women have also been identified as the subject of the song.[11][12][13]


  • The Release Report on Drug Offenders and the Law. Sphere, 1969. ISBN 0-7221-2445-7.
  • 1988: The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion. Hawthorn, 1977. ISBN 0-8015-6129-9.
  • Laid Bare – Diary – 1983–1984. Cunst Art, 2016. ISBN 978-1526206084.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ellen, Barbara (28 July 2000). "Still fighting the bad guys". The Observer. Retrieved 29 January 2008.
  2. ^ "Caroline Coon The Great Offender". The Gallery Liverpool. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  3. ^ Jan Moir "What Caroline Coon did next", The Guardian; 17 March 1983, Sixties, p. 6
  4. ^ "The Naked World of Harrison Marks". Gavcrimson. Blogspot. 29 August 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  5. ^ Retrieved 26 July 2022
  6. ^ a b Caroline Coon. The Hyman Collection. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  7. ^ Buszek, Maria Elena (1 March 2019). "The Great Offender: An interview with Caroline Coon". Punk & Post Punk. 8 (1): 137–149. doi:10.1386/punk.8.1.137_7. ISSN 2044-1983. S2CID 150787754.
  8. ^ Michael Smith "Sex-for-charity slur costs £40,000", The Daily Telegraph, 13 June 2000
  9. ^ reprobatemagazine (28 July 2017). "Buy The Reprobate: The Second Coming". The Reprobate. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  11. ^ Shelton, R. (1986). No Direction Home. Da Capo Press. p. 272. ISBN 0-306-80782-3.
  12. ^ Gill, A. (1998). Don't Think Twice, It's All Right. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 71–72. ISBN 1-56025-185-9.
  13. ^ Williamson, N. (2006). The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan (2nd ed.). Rough Guides Reference. p. 223. ISBN 978-1-84353-718-2.

External links[edit]