Charleston, East Sussex
Charleston, the residence of painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, was the country home-from-home for the whole Bloomsbury Group. The house has long hosted a literary festival and one devoted to short stories, Small Wonders, but this is the first time it has held a garden festival (31 March-3 April). The programme will include a talk by garden designer Dan Pearson and a joint event with garden writer Anna Pavord and Fergus Garrett, head gardener at nearby Great Dixter, as well as birdwatching, a herbal walk and workshops on mosaics, painting and flower arranging. Charleston's own gardener, Mark Divall, will demonstrate how he conserves one of the classic artists' gardens.
The Return of Ulysses
Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (1640), based on Homer's Odyssey, was written for the world's first public opera house and is the second of Monteverdi's three great pioneering operas to have survived. Like Orfeo and The Coronation of Poppea, it is still regularly performed. The Return of Ulysses is a particularly ambitious work, which brings gods and goddesses on to the stage, along with a heavenly choir and a chorus of sirens, and mingles comedy, pathos and spectacle in a way that is positively Shakespearean. This new production at the Young Vic (24 March-9 April) by Australian Benedict Andrews, making his directorial debut in Britain, builds on the theatre's award-winning collaboration with the English National Opera, which has already been responsible for three sell-out seasons.
Human Rights Watch Film Festival
The 15th Human Rights Watch film festival (at the Curzon Soho, Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Ritzy until 1 April) brings together a typically challenging collection of 16 documentaries and five dramas from all over the world. The Green Wave charts the surge of recent protests in Iran; 12 Angry Lebanese records a performance of Reginald Rose's classic courtroom drama, 12 Angry Men, staged in Lebanon's largest prison; while The First Grader tells the story of an 84-year-old Kenyan who turned up at the door of a rural school when the government announced free primary education for all. Other films explore homelessness in Los Angeles, detention centres in Belgium and the campaign against a proposed Shell pipeline in Ireland.
Alfred Wallis and Ben Nicholson
Alfred Wallis (1854-1942) was a Cornish fisherman and naive artist "discovered" in 1928 by the established painters Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood, who had recently set up an influential artists' colony in St Ives. Although Nicholson and Wood were able to support Wallis with both money and materials, the influence was not all one way. This is illustrated in an exhibition exploring Wallis' unique vision and juxtaposing examples of his and Nicholson's work from the late 1920s to the 1940s (Compton Verney, 26 March-5 June). It features Compton Verney's own major work by Wallis, Schooner Approaching Harbour (c.1930), alongside loans from both public and private collections.
Street Cries: Depictions of London's Poor
Hundreds of images survive from the 17th to the 19th centuries that depict the itinerant vendors, travelling carpenters, cane-weavers, criminals and prostitutes who made up the London street scene. Although many were either satirical or idealised, we can also find examples by artists deeply concerned to provide accurate and often sympathetic depictions of the poorest of the poor. This exhibition (Museum of London, 25 March-31 July) showcases some of the museum's most striking prints and drawings, including work by Gustave Doré, Théodore Géricault and Thomas Rowlandson. It also examines what they tell us about contemporary social structures, those making, buying and selling the prints, and the status and identity of the people portrayed.