ALEXIA Psaltis’ hair-raising expeditions squeezing through fences to photograph abandoned industrial sites have paid off, culminating in an eye-catching piece selected to hang in the Art Gallery of NSW.

The 2014 dux of Hunter School of the Performing Arts is the woman behind Subsumed, which has been selected for Artexpress, a showcase of the best works of art completed by NSW students as part of last year’s Higher School Certificate.

Of the 219 works selected for exhibitions in galleries across the state, only 37 have been selected for inclusion in the exclusive Art Gallery of NSW exhibit.

‘‘When I heard, I was jumping around in excitement, it was the best feeling,’’ Ms Psaltis said.

‘‘Out of all of my HSC achievements, that’s the one that really stood out to me.’’

Ms Psaltis’ work explores the paradox of Newcastle’s heavy industry sitting alongside its pristine coast.

It comprises six surrealistic portraits of female figures, representing Mother Nature, being consumed by industrial structures, objects and landscapes that convey destruction and invasion.

Each portrait includes layers of hundreds of photos she captured from both active and abandoned industrial sites including Kooragang Island, Cockatoo Island and around Hexham and Maitland.

‘‘I visited quite a few deserted and unused machinery yards where there was equipment that had rusted and been left to rot,’’ she said.

‘‘It was a bit scary going into the abandoned sites, but I just squeezed through holes in fences.

‘‘The portraits represent how physical, spiritual and psychological identity is threatened by industrialisation, which removes individual human inspiration and imagination.

‘‘We now face a future of surreal, stunted landscapes.’’

Ms Psaltis also completed major works in English Extension II, Music and Society and Culture and was named on the All-round Achievers list for receiving marks in the highest band possible for 10 or more units.

She will begin her combined law and arts degree at the University of Newcastle this month.

Artexpress at the Art Gallery of NSW will open to the public from Thursday.

The remaining works selected for Artexpress will be on display in venues across the state throughout the remainder of the year. The exhibition will come to Maitland Regional Art Gallery between September 11 and November 1.