A teenage artist’s striking portrait of her friend has been chosen from hundreds of works from across the country to hang in a prestigious London art gallery.

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Hannah Ellis’s A-Level exam piece was chosen as one of the outstanding works by a young artist over the last year, and will hang in the Mall Galleries’ annual exhibition in London in March.

It was chosen by the Royal British Society of Artists from more than 450 submitted nationally, after being put forward by the Norwich branch of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts groups.

The 18-year-old former Wymondham High student said she was excited at the thought of her painting being one of 20 chosen for London.

“It’s just amazing,” she said. “I never thought that something I’d done could go in that gallery.”

Despite her success, she said the portrait of friend Jess Stratton had not turned out as expected.

“It started looking very realistic, which was not the plan when I started the exam. But it was going better than I thought, so I thought I would stick with it.”

She told her friend to “keep a straight expression”, and was surprised by the final result. “The eyes follow you around the room, and the colours were designed to enhance the expression,” she added.

Miss Ellis is studying an art foundation course at Loughborough University and plans to progress to Fine Art degree in September. She hopes to make a career as an artist.

Neil Moulton, head of art at Wymondham High, praised the “fantastic accolade” for the school, adding that Miss Ellis had been part of a strong art group in 2012.

He added: “Hannah is so deserving of being selected. She is showing the kind of work that we are producing at Wymondham High, and some of it is as good as some of the professionals.”

Elizabeth Pierce, chairman of Norwich DFAS, said the group was keen to encourage young artists, and thanked the schools which had taken part. “When we exhibited Hannah’s painting along with others we had chosen at the Norwich Cathedral Hostry, we had positive comments from people from all over the world.”

The painting, the first Norfolk entry to have been chosen for the annual exhibition, is being exhibited at Anteros Arts Foundation in Fye Bridge Street until January 12.

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