Still wishing to escape, the artist made the pedal car in the second year of his fine art course at Hull. 'As far as escaping is concerned, this was quite successful really,' he says, though he also reveals that a major motivation was to visit a girlfriend in Leicester. He searched scrap yards in an attempt to find a car that he could do something with. 'Strangely enough, I couldn't find anyone prepared to give me a car.' Having looked into the practicalities and costs of road tax he discovered that a pedal vehicle was not subject to tax - a distinct advantage. The pedal car was exhibited in London soon after it's completion in Fresh Art. It was part of Hull's participation in a national exhibition of student work from art schools. Dobrowolski and Eddie pedalled the piece (accompanied by Leo on a bike) from Hull to London for the exhibition but found the experience of seeing it in an art gallery context troubling.
The whole show was depressing. It was an Art Fair. I'd never actually tried to resolve my work in that kind of context before. It was just completely wrong. The getting there was more useful and interesting than the being there.
For him the relationship between the car and landscape - a common theme in his work was essential. More than that, the experience of travelling in it was part of the work.
Crossing the Fens the car made perfect sense. There was this funny big car that was no good on hills - a romantic little dot in the landscape. That's when it made sense. When we went through the Fens in mid-summer it was hot. I remember wearing sun glasses and taking off our T-shirts and making turbans out of them. For two days we saw nothing but field after field of cabbages. We crossed the most fertile part of the country as if it was a desert. Images of Lawrence of Arabia came to mind at the time.
In addition to the ideological problems he has had with the art world, a major problem has been how to present the objects (vehicles) which, unlike traditional sculpture or installations, are, for the artist, not complete in themselves. They are evidence of something larger of which they are a part. In the Fresh Art exhibition Dobrowolski felt that, 'all you had was a novelty seaside car which wasn't what it was all about at all. The depth is from the context and the romantic element "out there"."
In this exhibition, ten years later, the artist has addressed this problem by including with each vehicle elements which give some sense of the landscape context and of the adventure. In this case the car's headlights illuminate two photographs of the car on its journey. The use of the headlights is an attempt to bring the car and the photographs together rather than being seen as art object and accompanying documentation. 'It's vital for me that they are joined by the spotlight. An art gallery has spotlights - these are spotlights that are on a car. They are physically, but not physically, together.'
Of course, most works in galleries were once part of a context from which they have been isolated - even if that context was the artist's studio. (The artist's relationship with a work is always tangentially related to that of the spectator.) Our great museums are filled with 'works of art', which we now treat as specimens of a common kind, but which once had meanings and were part of lives which we cannot know. Despite our inability to fully share Dobrowoslki's relationship with these vehicles, as objects they are potent material for our own imaginary events and adventures. We interact with them in the construction of personal odyssies, explore them as conundrums for which we attempt our own solutions. Our attention oscillates between analysis and intuition - perhaps akin to a child's exploration of new toys.
Again, this took so long to build, by the time I'd finished it the girl in question had graduated and left her art college anyway. I never did go to Leicester on it. I went to the coast. At the mouth of the Humber there's a nice thirty mile drive along the North bank of the river and I went out there on my first excursion. I got stopped by the police. The police are the antithesis of what you do in art schools - talking about labels and pigeon-holing. They never question convention and have to follow the letter of the law. He'd obviously seen it and thought, 'That doesn't fit into any of my categories. Must be illegal.' So he stopped me - pulled us over - me and my friend Eddie. And he said, 'No. No. You're not serious.' And, of course, I'd had all of this sort of, like, hippie teaching about integrity and doing things for real and I said, 'No, very serious man.' But I had him on a technicality 'cos it doesn't say anywhere in the Highway Code, 'You must be serious at all times' does it? Then he came up with a sort of nothing word. He said, 'It's reckless'. We're on a two seater pedal car doing no more than ten miles an hour, hardly reckless. By this time two police cars had stopped. They conferred with one another and they allowed us to go the back way which, in a lot of ways, was quite nice - passing fields of bright yellow oil seed rape. However, it added three hours onto the journey.
The following year, when I graduated, I packed up all my belongings on the pedal car and left the art college for good and went home to Essex on it. It took me about a week. We had a tent and a big trunk on the back, sleeping bag and everything under the bonnet. But before I went I thought I'd better clarify this technicality of whether it was legal or not. So I went to the police station and said, 'I've got this two seater, four wheeled pedal car. Is it legal on the road?' And he said, 'Come back in half an hour. We'll have VIB waiting for you.' I said, 'What?' 'Vehicle Inspection Branch'. They turned up in their own van with VIB on the back and clip boards. They spent about half an hour looking it over and they said, 'We're not sure. We'll have to look in our books.' In the end I rang them up and they said, 'Yeah, alright, go.' But of course I didn't tell 'em I was going to London. .............................................
There was, like, a graduate show called Fresh Art. It was probably the first one of those. We were going to that. The whole point was that we would turn up for the show on the pedal car which was to be an exhibit. We did a detour to go to Braintree to see my Mum and Dad who were highly amused. My Dad phoned up my brother and said, 'Christopher's come home on his bloody work of art!' We turned up at Fresh Art a couple of days later. We'd slept the night in Epping Forest and got up early to get into London before the rush hour. We got there so early the place wasn't open. We were met by a security guard who said, 'You can't leave that there.' We said, 'Can't we put it in the car park?' He said, 'Oh no. That's managers only in there.' I got quite indignant at this point and said, 'Look, we've come all the way from Hull. That's two hundred and forty miles.' He said, 'Hull? That's two hundred and forty two miles. You still can't leave it there.'