The biennial, acquisitive award focuses on artworks that reflect the connections between land and sea.
Her oil painting, ‘Antonio Depart Flores on the Whaling Tide’, was selected from 130 entries from across the country.
“Prizes like this are fantastic things,” she said.
“The money will help keep my practice going, but more than that, it is about recognition from people you respect and a great opportunity to network with artists from around Australia.”
This year’s judging panel consisted of Jane Devery, Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and Jane Stewart, Principal Curator of Art at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG).
The panel praised Dr Fragar for the complex painting, which contains multiple images.
“Julie’s painting captures the wild adventure in a way which brings the past and present together,” they said.
“The historic narrative reminds us of the continuing patterns of migration that reflect Australia today and is a compelling response to the ‘tidal’ theme.”
Dr Fragar’s work tells the story of her ancestor Antonio, who ventured onto a whaling ship in 1850 at the age of 12.
After being shipwrecked off the coast of Malaysia and Fiji, he was taken by missionaries to Australia.
“This painting is part of a series of works I created after travelling back to the Azores Islands in Portugal,” she said.
“The story of Antonio is part of my family folk lore, and it has consumed me for the past couple of years.”
Dr Fragar said the subject matter was a departure from her previous works, which dealt with her personal experiences of motherhood and marriage.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a bit more philosophical and have started looking outward more,” she said.
“After years of painting things that were very close to home, I’m revelling in using my art to explore the world.”
“This national award attracts some of the country’s best artists,” he said.
“Julie’s richly layered, complex work deservedly took out top honours and will be an asset to the gallery’s collection.
“Our students are lucky to be mentored by nationally recognised practicing artists.”
The Tidal: City of Devonport National Art Award 2016 Finalists Exhibition is on from 26 November to 29 January.