Comic about space gardens

Art and science merge in a dystopian graphic novel.
Detail of the cover of ExoGARDENS

Exobiologist Wieger Wamelink has been researching farming on Mars for a decade. A newly published graphic novel underscores the value of his research. The book, which was designed by and with artist Anna Vershinina, is the outcome of a contest the two won last year.

The contest, the annual competition for the BAD (Bio Art and Design) Award, is an initiative of a number of cultural institutes in and around Eindhoven. These Brabant cultural institutes challenge designers to bridge the gap between art and bioscience. Wamelink matched with Russian-born Vershinina during a speed-date event.


‘We had actually already met’, Wamelink says. ‘I met her during a conference on exobiology. She is not only an artist but also a scientist. She is pursuing her PhD in Regenerative Architecture and BioDesign at Leuven. She was eager to work with me and had a cool idea for a BAD project.’

A settlement in Antarctica, a drawing from ExoGARDENS designed by AI

That idea is Exogarden, an installation consisting of stacked 3D-printed flowerpots. A modular vertical farming system designed for the growing of vegetable crops. ‘This could be used on Mars, but also on Antarctica. Together, we developed this concept into an artistic design for space farming.’

Strijp S

The design won the duo one of the three 25-thousand-euro prizes. The money was put towards building the installation, which has been on exhibit at the MU Hybrid Art House on Strijp S in Eindhoven since the end of last year. But that is not all. ‘We soon came up with the idea of making a graphic novel as well’, Wamelink states.

Drilling for oil and gas has woken demons that render the earth uninhabitable

Wieger Wamelink, exobiologist

‘I am an aficionado and collector of comics. I own several thousand’, he continues. ‘And I knew Anna made drawings of this kind. So, we designed a scenario about a dystopian world in the near future, in which our design is used to grow food.’ Wamelink himself also has a part in the story, ‘That came as a surprise; I knew nothing about it.’


The apocalyptic world in the one-hundred-page long book ExoGARDENS, Visions of a New World did not simply emerge. It is the result of devastating climate change. ‘Drilling for oil and gas has woken demons that render the earth uninhabitable. These demons are a metaphor for our impact on the earth.’ But there is a happy end, thanks to Wamelink and Vershinina’s exogardens.

What makes the book special is the fact that the drawings are AI-generated. They are also projected on the wall behind the installation in the MU Art House. The book was exclusively sold there. However, with the end of the exhibition in sight, Wamelink has decided to sell the book through his website and make it known. ‘It was released a while ago, but no one knew about it.’

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