Órbitas is to date, the largest of Bowie's studio projects. It was inspired by and followed the East 5th studio house (1991-2010, where band practices and recordings, resident artists, reading groups, wine making and regular garden gatherings were centered) and informed the Sitges, Barcelona Qurk Studio that from 2021-2022, functioned as Bowie's music, writing and art studio.
Located in Sámara, Costa Rica, the Órbitas facility was conceived, designed, built and directed by Fiona Bowie.
Central to her mandate (and following the intent of previous artworks), the property was rehabilitated.
The previously razed and subsquently compacted lot, was fallow, but dominated by invasive non-indigenous plants species was painstakenly hand weeded by the artist over years to encourage the reestablishment of local flora and fauna.

the flats, before and after.
The wind, birds, reptiles and visiting animals reseaded the flats (2014-ongoing) jungle and garden areas with myriad plant species.

After seven years, the breadth and complexity of both plant and insect species re-establishing at Órbitas was legion. After 13 years, the rewilding of the soil, tierra, jungle and gardens was fully established. Many bird species, including several species of parakeets and parrots,hummers, song birds and Chachalacas began nesting in the rewilded jungle area over that period. As of 2021, because of breeding programs and the release efforts by local Macaw recovery centre located 1/2 hour south of Órbitas at Punta Islita, the Macaw Recovery Network (formally known as the Ara Project), Scarlet Macaws have also returned to Órbitas and the surrounding area after a decades-long absence.
[FYI, Macaws throughout Central America became endangered due to wild capture for the North American and European pet trades (banned in Costa Rica in 2012 for all animals, reptiles and birds). The breeding pairs at this sanctuary are formally captive pets that could not be released into the wild, but enjoy palacial greened avaries that afford them to learn to and enjoy flying from tree to tree].

In the dry season, the integrated garden plants are watered from a 10,000 litre rainwater collection tank fed by roof canoas (gutters) of the residency. Órbitas also has a bio-dynamic garden and forest garden, promoting the knowledge and use of native medicinals and (seasonal) culinary plants including herbs, vegetables, many citrus, mango, cinnamon, papaya, cacao, coconut, fig,
hibiscus and other edible flowers, moringa starfruit, melons and other fruit. The proximity of the garden to the forest promotes an understanding of supporting wildlife, both flora and fauna, with sustainable practices.

1. temporary plant labels 2. Elizabeth Zvonar in residence, with collected wood scraps for signage. 3. plant signs in progress.

The residency program was curtailed by the pandemic with no new visitors after January 2020. It closed in 2021, but Órbitas and its forest, biodynamic gardens and reclamated flora and fauna are now stewarded by new owners, who have articulated the desire to continue the legacy of the re-wilded property. No poisons nor pesticides of any kind were ever sprayed on the property which flanks the important Debango Refuge.

Fiona and Lulu working.

Órbitas was a unique residency intended to offer busy creative individuals opportunity to reboot, to play, experiment: supporting research and exploration of ideas that may form the foundation for new works.
Housed on the property of Villa Morpho, Órbitas welcomed International and Costa Rican creative professionals across a multitude of disciplines.

As well as open studio space, Fiona opened her own studio space to anyone needing access to sound or media facilities.

1. back studio 2. kitchen studio jam in preparation for Musicircus.
From here, Fiona and Jim Peers performed an international live feed performance as Slickerslacker, with Fiona on the grounds of Órbitas and Jim in the lobby of the upper gallery for Musicircus, at the Polygon Gallery in 2019.

Órbitas' locale and grounds have been designed to encourage a slowing down: time and space to think, pause, conceive.
The location also offered opportunities to experience local culture, wildlife, various activities, ocean views and dips,diverse settings for walks. The forest air, ocean breezes and abundant flora and fauna that make up Órbitas' natural setting, provide a restful environment.

Individuals taylored their stay by curating their residency: choosing who might occupy the facility during their stay and complement their creative threads. Collaborative sessions are also encouraged. A media and larger studio was available to support research and development of work and media based explorations. The main space of the residence was also available for larger works, installation or exhibition.
Visiting artists were welcomed to present their work via artist talks, school visits, performances, public work or concerts in Samara to the local and visiting public.

Residency Living quarters
The two residency guest rooms each had two quality queen beds, a fridge, safe, desk, ensuite bathrooms and sunny front and shady back patios. Other living areas are communal and include the kitchen, patios, studios, library, upper deck saltwater pool, a large dining/conference table- suitable for spreading out documents and an open living are suitable for movement/rehearsals/workshopping/experimentation.

Being at the edge of a large forest reserve, Villa Morpho offered great bird watching opportunities. The beach was a 10 minute walk down a road adjacent to Órbitas Lane. The town, a further stroll of about 10 minutes on the beach. Due to the reefs, Sámara is an excellent place for water sports: Kayaking, SUP, beginners surfing, swimming and excellent snorkling.
The facility remains a 100% pesticide/herbicide free, and grey water is recycled to the forest, therefore all toiletries must be non-toxic/organic/biodegradable. While there are very few mosquitoes at Órbitas, there are locally produced, very effective natural non-toxic repellents available in town for those venturing into town or who are particularly sensitive to bites.

1.Entrance path and garden with gallinas (hens) Frankolina and Coco. 2.Fabiola Carranza at work during a residency with Jenifer Papararro. Foto: Jenifer Papararro.

Sunset panorama photographed from upper deck.

As well as work, exhibitions and events taking place at Órbitas, Fiona was part of the 8 member board of artists and musicians that made up Samara Cultura Vive!.
The group hosted Latin American Dance Festivals, local, national and international Musicians, Theatre productions.

Productions in the Samara Salon.
Samara Vive and Órbitas hosted director Brenda Rosencovicha and her Buenas Aires blind theatre company Empacho Teatro, who presented a multi-sensory, multimedia installation theatre performance.
Samara Cultura Vive! Board after party,
Orbitas welcomed International and Costa Rican creative professionals across a multitude of disciplines. Click on the image below to see the invitation page while the residency project was open.

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