In libhandy 1.1 we will get a better API for HdyAvatar for using a custom image. You can set a GLoadableIcon (which includes GdkPixbuf and GFIleIcon) that is then loaded, resized and displayed automatically by HdyAvatar.
@exalm and @KekunPlazas helped a lot getting it merged, thank you very much.
Since the icon is property of HdyAvatar you can connect the widget directly to a libfolks contact.
In vala it will look like this:
contact.bind_property("avatar", this.avatar, "loadable-icon", BindingFlags.SYNC_CREATE);
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