Interview by:

New Norm Magazine



United Kingdom


I am the founder and artist behind IyaGallery. The essence of my watercolour work is very much inspired by two of the main characteristics of the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic: kanso, which means simplicity, and seijaku, which means tranquillity.

- Emilie Van Camp

Where are you from / call home?

I’m originally from Belgium, but have been living and working in the UK for a few years now. After moving to the Peak District and then the Scottish Highlands, I am now settled in London with my husband.

What are some simple pleasures that you’ve rediscovered during the coronavirus pandemic?

Being able to take more time for myself has enabled me to find new ways to rediscover and enjoy simple pleasures. A morning turmeric or matcha latte, diffusing essential oils in the flat throughout the day, learning new Japanese words, growing more plants, herbs, and vegetables on our terrace. But mainly being able to sit still and simply be with myself and my thoughts, to reflect on our life, being mindful, and practicing gratefulness. Being in the now...


Embracing slower living

How have you and your creative process changed?

I feel I have been able to reconnect with myself but also with my creative process.

Before the lockdown, I was at a standstill for a little while and this time has given me some confidence back and some energy to create again. Reminding myself that it is important to focus on what really matters to you and what brings you joy in life. It does not have to be perfect it only needs to make you happy. 

What are some of the things that have changed in your country as a result of the pandemic? What is the new normal?

I am not sure there is or even will be a new normal after something like this pandemic. However, there is this beautiful sense of community, support, and kindness that is very much present and that you can witness amongst people who are total strangers. It's also happening from a creative point of view, where artists and like-minded people are coming together to create, share, and inspire others during this unsettling time.

I feel we are all still trying to figure out what is going to happen in the next few months, years.

However, in the wait of having things back to “normal”, I am taking some time to slow down and reflect on what “normal” means to me and what “normal” I would like to go back to. I make sure to find values again in things that can easily be overlooked. Uncertainty can be extremely difficult and challenging to deal with but teaching ourselves to find new ways of doing things can be a great opportunity to bring meaningful things and happiness in our life.


Travel from home

What was your favourite destination and why?

Japan, always Japan. I have been a few times now and each time is simply life-changing. For me Japan is beauty, respect, purity, dedication, commitment and so much more... and for some reason feels like home. Whenever I am in Japan, no matter if it is in a city or in an isolated village, I feel utter joy, calmness, and gratitude, I feel I belong.

I first opened my online shop, under my own name before changing it to IyaGallery in homage to a cherished place I visited in Japan.

What are some of your most memorable moments during the trip?

It is a really hard question as every moment I spent it is memorable. But straight away, two moments jumped into my mind. The first one, when we stayed in this extraordinary two hundred years old thatched farm in a remote village of only five houses. After walking around in the peaceful landscape, we were invited inside the home of a lovely eighty years old woman to share a cup of green tea together, tea that we found out afterward, she harvests herself in her garden. We could barely communicate or understand each other but with simple genuine smiles and gestures we treasured this moment. The second one, when we stayed in a Shinto Buddhist temple in the majestic area of Koya-san and had the privilege to attend the monk's morning praying ceremony and meditation. 

What does travel give you that everyday life doesn’t?

I guess it depends a little on where we travel but I would say that mainly we are looking for a sense of freedom, escapism and deep connections with a place, its people and its culture. I feel that sometimes we chose our travel experiences but we do not always choose our daily life ones, and maybe it is something we should try to change a little where possible.

You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours, where would you go?

Instinctively, I would say Japan as, in case you have not guessed this yet, it has my heart and soul and there is so much more we would like to discover but I know we will... so with unlimited travel budget I would be grateful to discover Bhutan.