Chinese Artist Captures British Ghost, Puts It On Display

Why is it ghosts can walk through walls, but they don't fall through the floor?

I grew up on stories of ghosts walking through walls, disappearing and reappearing at will. They make footsteps walking up a flight of stairs, or make boards creak as they walk down a hallway.

But they're apparently unable to fly through the floor. Why else would they need to walk up stairs, I guess?

Worse yet, they apparently don't have the ability to pass through anything other than walls of a house. They couldn't pass through, say, the sides of a metal canister. Unless that metal canister were made entirely from floorboards.

Chinese artist Lu Pingyuan claims to have captured a British ghost in just such a canister. He has it on display at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester, England. And maybe I trapped an invisible fairy in a pickle jar.

At least we think he's in there. It could just be an empty cookie tin with "GHOST" written in magic marker.

"I wish him to exist and be treated as a real artwork and to present him around the globe, getting respect and tribute from people everywhere" Lu told the Bolton News.

According to the News, the ghost of James Stanley, Seventh Earl of Derby, has haunted Ye Olde Man and Scythe inn and pub in Bolton, England since his death in 1651. At least until Lu followed him into the pub toilet and bottled him up.

James Stanley lived in Derby, right up until the exact moment he was executed for treason.

It took place near the pub, which had already been around for 400 years. There's even a plaque commemorating his beheading for treason, and the inn has a chair inscribed "15th October 1651 In this chair James 7th Earl of Derby sat at the Olde Man and Scythe Inn, Churchgate, Bolton immediately prior to his execution."

Lu told the Bolton News he was so fascinated by Stanley's ghost that he traveled all the way from Shanghai to Manchester to steal it.

Once he cornered the ghost in the pub toilet, he performed an incantation to trap it into the sealed metal canister.

Of course, pub owner Richard Greenwood isn't happy about this. He wrote a letter to Lu.

"I would have liked to have been privy to your actions and indeed to the exhibition before the ghost of James Stanley was taken out of Bolton, his ties to the town and to Ye Olde Man and Scythe run very deeply. I feel very strongly that James Stanley's ghost should remain in Bolton and at Ye Olde Man and Scythe to preserve the natural order of things," wrote Greenwood.

This raises the question, how did Lu convince Stanley to climb into the canister? Wouldn't it be a little small? Is he comfortable? Is he bored? And does he think it's demeaning to be put on display for people to gawk at?

Not at all, says Lu. "I told his ghost about my proposal the second time I visited this place," Lu told the News, "and James Stanley agreed that I can put him into a jar in order to exhibit him in galleries and museums alike."

That's what my invisible fairy said too. She's very happy in her pickle jar, as long as she can see the TV.

But this isn't the end of Stanley's art career. Lu says he wants to exhibit the sealed metal canister in museums and galleries around the world. He is already planning the next one in 2017, although he hasn't said where that will be, or how long Stanley has to stay in there.

"(A)fter the world tour of exhibitions, I will discuss with him and ask him whether he would prefer to stay like this, as a piece of art, or go back to the Ye Olde Man and Scythe," said Lu.

Of course, we have no way of actually knowing whether he's in there. Who's to say Lu's not making it all up, and that Stanley isn't still safe at home? Will a Chinese incantation even work on an English ghost if he doesn't speak Mandarin?

But most importantly, everything I know about ghost trapping I learned from Ghostbusters. Which makes me wonder, is this just one more example of ancient Chinese methods achieving the same goals as Western science?

After all, why spend thousands of dollars on an electronic containment unit, when we only needed a quick rhyme and Grandma's flour canister?

Egon Spengler is not going to be happy about this.


Special only for my blog readers: This is a CCTV video inside Ye Olde Man and Scythe that supposedly shows the ghost of James Stanley. Before he was captured, of course.

Photo credit: Michael Ely and (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

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